Using Data to Build Trust at Airbnb

Michael Sims's picture

In case you haven’t been stalking my LinkedIn page—and you really should; it’s a thrilling read— I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you that I am, in fact, a Los Angeles-based, remote employee of APQC. This means that, periodically, I travel to Houston for a week or so at a time to attend important meetings, take in our excellent conferences, and remind my colleagues that I am more than a faceless voice living inside the speakerphone. This also means that, unlike my fellow remote workers, I get to stay with parents, who live in Houston. And, let me tell you, they make better hosts than any luxury hotel ever could. But why?

The answer is simple. My parents know me—my sleeping habits, what kind of food I like, the way I like my stuffed animals arranged (just kidding…or am I?)—just about as well as anyone ever could. The posh hoteliers simply cannot compete.

However, the data scientists at Airbnb just might be able to give my parents a run for their money.

Airbnb analyzes vast quantities of data about both its guests and its hosts to act as a matchmaker for the two parties and assure the best possible experience for both sides. Much like my mom could always tell whether I was being truthful when I described my day at school as “good,” Airbnb uses natural language processing to read between the lines in user reviews and glean insights about how the experience really went, instead of simply relying on quantitative ratings.

But Airbnb doesn’t just use its insightfulness to learn about its users; it also applies its analytics capabilities to Airbnb itself. In fact, data and analytics permeate everything that Airbnb does, from hiring choices to investment decisions, and, of course, to product development. Even its corporate culture revolves around objective, data-driven decision making (click here to learn more about building a data-driven culture)!

Sound too good to be true? Don’t take my word it. Hear it straight from the source!

Join us on March 23 for a very special APQC webinar with Alok Gupta, data science manager at Airbnb, where he will talk about how Airbnb uses data to build trust among strangers and among its employees.

Click here to learn more and register!

Stay up to date with our upcoming analytics research, webinars, and more by visiting our expertise page.

Follow me on Twitter @MSIMS_APQC or find me on LinkedIn.



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