According to the recently released Airbnb Asia Pacific (APAC) Travel survey, 71% of travelers highlighted the importance of trying local cuisine. A separate Airbnb study published this week, the 2017 Restaurant Spending Report, found that Airbnb guests generated $6.5 billion dollars for restaurants around the world between September 2016 and September 2017. Airbnb is banking on these trends to continue with its rollout of a new in-app functionality that makes restaurant recommendations and even allows guests to book a table.
Jasper is joined by Hostfully CEO and Co-founder, Margot Lee Schmorak, to discuss the connection between food and travel and how Airbnb is capitalizing on guests keen to experience a new place through its cuisine. They also cover recent interviews with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky regarding the most important attribute for entrepreneurs and the introduction of Airbnb Experiences in New York City— featuring a shoe shopping trip with none other than Sarah Jessica Parker!
Jasper and Margot wrap today’s episode with news that Airbnb Co-founder Joe Gebbia has listed his own place on Open Homes, and listener questions about writing guest reviews. Listen in to understand why honesty is the best policy when it comes to leaving feedback on Airbnb!
Article #6: Airbnb Co-Founder Opens up His Own Home
Q: When a guest breaks the house rules, should I leave a negative review? I am reluctant to do so for fear it will hurt my Airbnb business moving forward.
This episode is sponsored by Aviva IQ. Aviva IQ automates messages to your Airbnb guests. It’s also free!
Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 192
Jasper: Welcome to Get Paid for Your Pad, a definitive show on Airbnb hosting, featuring the best advice on how to maximize profits from your Airbnb listing as well as real life experiences from Airbnb hosts all over the world. Welcome.
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Jasper: Get Paid for Your Pad, welcome everybody. My name is Jasper and I’m co-hosting today with Margot, and she is of course, the co-founder and CEO of Hostfully.
Margot: Hey Jasper, Good afternoon, evening and morning, depending on where the listeners are.
Jasper: Evening here in Stockholm, it’s starting to get very cold and fall is kicking in. In Sweden, the summer is kind of short. It gets cold pretty quickly.
Margot: Do you get the nice parts of Fall, too?
Jasper: Absolutely. But, I don’t have a winter coat, and I don’t have a sweater because I haven’t been in any cold countries for a long time. So, I have to buy new clothes.
Margot: cool. It was getting nice here in San Francisco. But it’s funny, this is the warmest part of the whole year, which is very not normal for the United States. It’s glorious for this month and the next month. If you are considering visiting, now is great, September, October.
Jasper: San Francisco has an awesome, little microclimate, doesn’t it?
Margot: Yeah. Sometimes it’s like ten to 20 degrees different even a half hour away. IT’s a really interesting place. In fact, sometimes, my co-founder David and I live about a mile apart, and there are huge weather differences. It’s really strange. It takes a while to get used to it, once you get used to it you bring a jacket everywhere.
Jasper: Interesting. Airbnb has been working for a while with Resee, a company they invested with in January. So, this has been coming for a while, but now they finally rolled out, or started testing restaurant recommendations as part of trips functionality. Not only can you check out different restaurants in 16 US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and a bunch of other ones, you can even book a table without leaving the Airbnb app. SO, this is a nice piece of functionality that has been added to the app. You can notify the restaurant if you’re running late and you can also pay for the meal ahead of time, including tax and tip, but I don’t know how you’d do that.
Margot: That’s interesting actually. Maybe if you’re not from the US and tipping causes you anxiety and you want to give the standard amount, maybe that’s an amount. On a bunch of different travel blogs online and one of the most common discussions is around tipping. I know it causes people a lot of stress who are not from the US to think about how to tip, so maybe that just removes the layer of anxiety. I can see that working.
Jasper: I remember when I moved to the US, I wasn’t used to the tipping scturutre where you’re supposed to pay like 18 percent regardless of the service.
Margot: It’s usually 15 percent of the pre-tax amount to make it even more confusing. If you’re satisfied, you could tip up to 20 percent. But then, some people make mathematical mistakes and they tip on the post-tax amount which can be like ten percent more, so it gets confusing and everyone has a different rule of thumb
Jasper: Two things I’ve noticed is that they don’t like foreigners who don’t understand the tipping culture, and on the other side, I’ve noticed that when you got to restaurants in foreign countries, they love Americans because they tip in countries where tipping is not part of the culture. IT goes both ways.
Margot: I remember being in Prague and tipping inappropriately large amounts. My husbands, from Israel, would be like, this is ridiculous. Never mind reinforcing the stereotype about Jewish people, but. It was nice being American in a foreign country that way, because at least we’re good tippers
Jasper: Exactly. Exactly. When you’re in Prague, everything is pretty cheap, I guess tipping doesn’t cost much. We’ll talk about that later, there’s an article that shows different amounts of money that Airbnb guests spend in different cities. Let’s talk about Resee. What are your thoughts?
Margot: I think as a user on the app, I think Resee is a great benefit, especially when you’re overwhelmed about being in a new place. I would call myself sort of experienced, but travel is an anxiety inducing activity. You’re in a new place. The more that Airbnb can do to help smooth and make that experience safer and more comfortable, then I’m excited. It’s all about the execution. Because, we’ve seen Airbnb, which I went on, and we talked about that before, and that was not executed very well, but there’s more risk in that model. I think this will be easier to execute. What do you think?
Jasper: Well, I was just thinking, when I travel, I always use Four Square. I think the reason why I might not use it is because I imagine I’m in a city, I want to go get some food, the first thing I worry about is not making a reservation, the first thing is how good is the restaurant? So, I’d go on Four Square and they list the restaurants that are in your area, it knows where you are. It shows you the top picks in your area. So, I would go and check out the reviews and the pictures, so I don’t know if I’d go to make the reservation, it’s one step too far for me. I’d pick my restaurant and just walk over. Then again, everyone is different. We’ll see. My gut feeling tells me it’s going to be hard for Airbnb to get traction with this.
Jasper: Yeah, right now they’re using it. They’re making it available. Everyone uses Open Table. Just because you’re an Airbnb guest, does this mean you’re going to use the app to book restaurants. I can maybe see foreign people using it. Then again, my worry would be, are all the restaurants in the app, or is it a selection, an Airbnb selection? Are there reviews? There’s a demo on the website and I don’t see any reviews?
Margot: I don’t see any reviews.
Jasper: I wouldn’t book a table at one of these restaurants without seeing some of the reviews from other people. I know there’s so many tourist traps around the world, I’m always looking for the local restaurant that you’d normally not find.
Margot: So, one of the things they could do, is bring in reviews from a third-party service. That would change things. But it is an interesting question. It doesn’t have that big network of reviews. That’s where Yelp has won. At least you can read through them from different peoples’ perspectives. This user experiences reminds me totally of Apple. In that it’s like the one way you do it, and this is the information we’re going to give you, and that’s it. For some people it makes them feel more comfortable and for some people it makes them less comfortable. It reminds me of another article you sent me about child-like wonder. Do you want to segue into that? Are you ready to talk about something else?
Jasper: No, go ahead.
Margot: Okay, you sent me this great article about Bryan Chesky saying the most important trait for entrepreneurs is to have a sense of wonder about things. It’s interesting this article was written, because a few years ago I was working at Apple and I got the chance to interact with Johnny Ives, not so much Steve Jobs but I would see his team in the cafeteria at apple and whatnot. And these guys, they’d walk around like they were seven years old. They’d have their head up to the sky and be like wondering about things and asking questions and they’d seem so open-minded. For me, it was a pivotal moment in my life, and you can just be the one asking questions. I found this article quite meaningful. The message is clear, to be successful, you have to be asking why and have an open mind. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on that
Jasper: I totally agree. I think that, from what I’ve seen, with successful entrepreneurs, they question everything. They have a skeptical and critical mind. They think differently. They’re not afraid to go against the opinion of the mainstream. I can definitely see how that would be an important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. There was also an article on the experiences of the other functionality that Airbnb has added back in November. They’ve opened it up in New York, which, I’m not sure why New York wasn’t part of the original launch, one of the cities they originally launched in. now they’ve launched Airbnb experiences in New York. To launch with ab last to give it some publicity, they’ve recruited Sarah Jessica Parker for one of the experiences. I’m assuming they’ve recruited her for this. She will take you, for $400 she will take you on a shoe-shopping experience. You get a pair of shoes. The question is, is the experience going to take off? Are people going to go on the tours offered by people who aren’t famous. There’s an article on CBS news where they chat with Brian Chesky, taking people on hiking trips. I think those are the exceptions. I get the feeling rom talking to hosts and guests, I don’t hear a lot of people who are going on a lot of experiences. I wonder how much traction their getting with is.
Margot: The jury is still out on experiences. The challenge is that, they’re making assumptions about the types of travelers and make the experience work with that kind of traveler. For a mountain guide, if you’re going to Colorado or Canada, and you want to lead people on backpacking trips. The people who go backpacking trips, I think they’re more likely to go on those trips. But I think in Urban areas, I think there’s such diverse and diverse sets of skills, its’ a hard matching process. The one I went on, I wasn’t particularly interested in. The one I went on I never would have gone on if I wasn’t the CEO of Hostfully, I was doing it to check into it. I wasn’t that excited about the others. One was about brewing beer. This one was a graffiti walk. They were just too specific for my tastes.
Jasper: When they first started I was pretty positive about it. But, I’m definitely starting to get some second thoughts about whether it’s going to be successful or not. There’s also something to be said for a company to be focused on one thing. There’s been a lot of examples in the past where companies were successful in one area, google plus is a good example. I don’t know. I’m skeptical now about whether it will work or not.
Margot: It will be neat to see if they can get non-Airbnb travelers to book the experience, but that’s a different marketing situation.
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Jasper: There was an interesting article that I Saw in travel daily news. Asia website. It talks about how food plays a big role in choosing the holiday destination for travelers. This article, it has some data about a study that was done in the Airbnb Asia pacific travel survey. It was a survey among people who use Airbnb in Asia. The results were at 71 percent emphasized the importance of trying local cuisines while on vacation. That’s interesting because, now with that kind of shows that for one thing, it makes it logical to get into the restaurant reservation business. IT seems to make sense. On the other hand, it shows that when people go on holiday, they’re looking for the special restaurant, the local restaurants. The ones they wouldn’t normally find. I think it shows that the importance of providing your guest with restaurant recommendations. That’s the other thing I want to mention, if you’re an Airbnb guest, you’re going to ask your host for recommendations on restaurants, too. So, the question is, are those restaurants, lets’ say your host recommends one, and it doesn’t have to be one the Airbnb app. I guess, sort of the process of finding a restaurant is to ask the host, hey where should I eat. If the host says, three blocks away there’s an amazing restaurant. I don’t think I’d go into the app to find it. I would just walk over.
Margot: That’s why we built Hostfully, so I hope you’re right. That’s the thesis, the person you’re staying with has much more incentive to make sure your stay is good. Compared to everyone else, even to Airbnb. So, they’re going to make sure the recommendations are high quality, so that’s kind of the thesis.
Jasper: By the way, there was another study that was done, I think it was done by Airbnb, so we have to be a little bit skeptical. Apparently, they’ve generated a 6.5-billion-dollar boost for local restaurants only. I think they mean restaurants located in the neighborhood where the guests are staying. According to the statistics, 43 percent of the spending done by guests was in the neighborhood they were staying in. So, Airbnb guests are spending more on local businesses then every before. Coming out of restaurants $40-$100 lighter on average. They list a number of cities to show how much Airbnb guests show how much they spend annually in major European cities. London is the top one on the list. Not surprising. Restaurants are expensive in London. Prague which is the lowest, which makes sense, one thing I noticed is that it’s so cheap. You can get a giant beer for a couple of dollars. That’s an exceptionally cheap part of Prague.
Margot: That’s an exceptionally cheap part of Prague. The beer.
Jasper: That’s all I consumed, so —
Margot: The food is also cheap, but the beer is exceptionally cheap.
Jasper: one of the co-founders of Airbnb decided to open up his home. He has been persuading hosts all across the world to welcome refugees in his home, and he has decided to host a refugee – I can’t pronounce that word – himself. This article was in financial times, by the way, it was a pretty interesting article fi you want to learn about Joe Gebbia and his house, he has a few pretty interesting pieces of art. Some vintage chairs in particular, designed by a Dutch designer. Pretty interesting article if you want to learn more about Joe Gebbia. There’s going to be some refugees staying at his place. I would feel pretty privileged if I could stay with Joe Gebbia
Margot: That’s cool
Jasper: Was there anything else you saw that we could talk about?
Margot: No, I think that’s pretty much it. I think the Rezzi news the big Airbnb related announcement. I haven’t seen a ton on the newswire about legislation changes and stuff, but it’s been quiet the last few weeks. I think with the Fall coming, it’s quieting down a bit.
Jasper: I did get a question in the Facebook group. This is something that still pops up quite a bit. What do you do as a host when you get a guest that breaks the house rules and doesn’t behave well and you want to leave a negative review, but there are some that are reluctant because they think it will hurt their business. Me and Margot did a little bit of research before the podcast to double check this, but first of all, there shouldn’t be fear of retaliation when it comes to reviews. The review period is 14 days after check-out. The guest can’t see the review until the period has passed. But you can’t edit the review. You can’t wait for the host to leave the review and then leave a bad one as retaliation. They’re worried future guests will be worried about a negative review. Me and Margot played around on the platform a bit, you can actually see the reviews that the host has left for their previous guests, for the host. But if you click on the profiles of the guest, you can see the review the host has left for the guest. But you have to look at all the different profiles. Some guests think if you leave a negative review for a past guest, that will have a negative impact on the chance of getting booked by a future guest. I personally think that if you’re looking for an Airbnb, the decision process, I don’t think the reviews will be a major factor. What do you think?
Margot: I think it’s unlikely that as a guest you would actually do that much digging. It really took us time to figure that out. I think as long as you’re not consistently giving people bad reviews for unreasonable things, it’s not a problem. That’s the benefit, bad actors get weeded out. I don’t think it’s and. If someone trashes your place, you should leave them a bad review. You’re doing a favor for the next host.
Jasper: I totally agree. Reviews should always be honest. Authentic representation of what the experiences was like. It should be reflected in the review. I don’t think there’s much of a negative effect on your future Airbnb business.
Margot: I have to sympathize though, when I had that bad experience with experiences in New York. I was reluctant to give a bad review. My co-founder was like, you have to give a bad review, that’s how it works. It’s like being a good citizen, to be honest. It’s not always comfortable
Jasper: you don’t have to be mean in the review, but you can be, you can write it in a way that you’re still being respectful. It has to be honest. Otherwise, you want future guests to be aware of what your experience was like. You’re helping them by enabling them and making a better decision on where to stay. If you leave a bad review for a host either. All right, Margot. Thank you for joining today. Our connection was a little chunky, so I hope the podcast is still going to turn out reasonable. If not, if there’s some hiccups, apologies for that. Sometimes it’s tricky to always be traveling and having a perfect internet connection, it’s challenging. Hopefully it’ll be okay. Hopefully you enjoyed the podcast. We’ll be back with another episode on Monday, so I hope to see you then.