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A few team members from our San Francisco office spent a week in Paris and a week in London, talking to local hosts. It was an opportunity for us to get in-person feedback—especially on new features like the updated calendar and ratings details—and to start preparing for Airbnb Open, which will be in Paris from November 12-14. 

We held 7 focus groups, where hosts shared their thoughts on communicating with guests, setting their price, and having the most appealing listing page. And we visited 16 hosts in different neighborhoods throughout the two cities, so we could see how they use the Airbnb site and mobile app day-to-day. In each city, we also gathered together dozens of Superhosts for celebratory drinks. It was wonderful hearing them share stories, tips, and their passion for welcoming travelers. One Superhost described it as helping people make a “dream come true.”

We want to share what we heard, so we can continue the conversation with the wider host community at meetups, Superhost gatherings, and Airbnb Open.

The community of guests is growing.
When you get a request or inquiry from a traveler who’s new to using Airbnb, you may find yourself having to spend quite a bit of time explaining how it all works. You may feel it’s important to remind them that your home won’t feel like a hotel, and the support you offer could be quite different from what they’re used to. We know setting these expectations can be time-consuming, and that the more we do to tell the story of Airbnb around the world, the less you’ll have to do it with each guest.

In addition, many hosts told us that they are encouraging new travelers to add more information to their profiles—especially photos—and to complete the verified ID process. We heard time and again that Airbnb can do more to make sure new travelers provide personal information that will help hosts make their booking decisions. We’re already working on ways to encourage every guest to provide a photo and basic profile information, and we’re exploring new ways to teach guests about how Airbnb works when they sign up.

Empathy is essential to providing great hospitality.
We were so excited to hear hosts repeatedly talk about putting themselves in their guests’ shoes—it shows how important it is to imagine your guests’ experience and anticipate their needs before those needs come up.

One key example of this type of consideration is the focus many of the hosts we met place on responding to guests as quickly as possible. One host explained, “I don’t need Instant Book because I make sure to provide instant answers!” By keeping in mind that guests want to be able to make their plans quickly, these hosts show their desire to be accommodating from the very beginning of the conversation.

Perhaps because Paris and London are such popular destinations for travelers from all around the world, many hosts also mentioned how important translation tools are. Each host we met with had their own way of approaching language barriers in order to make sure communication didn’t get in the way of their ability to host. We took this as an important reminder for everyone at HQ that hosts in popular tourism destinations need robust translation tools for every step of the booking process: from communication before the reservation is confirmed, to preparing for their guests’ arrival.

It can take some time to build confidence.
Some of the people we met with mentioned teaching fellow hosts about how Airbnb and home-sharing work. For friends and family who are getting ready to open their homes, you can be an essential source of information about creating a listing page, providing arrival information before check-in, and offering a space that will be welcoming.

We also enjoyed listening to hosts share their stories of how they built their confidence around hosting. One host explained that at first she was “counting all the spoons” after each guest left her apartment. But over time, as she met more and more travelers who took great care of her space, she realized she could probably leave the silverware unchecked.

We want every host to feel confident and secure, which means we’ll continue to use stories like the ones we heard in Paris to guide our product plans. This visit was just one of many research trips we’re conducting all over the world. Recently, we’ve also had teams in Singapore and Portland, meeting with hosts and learning more about how we can make hosting easier and more rewarding. We’ll also have plenty of people at Airbnb Open—from the people who build the website to executives from around the company—to gather your feedback and insights.

If you met the team in Paris and London, or you participated in a focus group, we’d just like to say: merci beaucoup and thank you!