Marketing Lessons from Travelling in Europe

Part Six: Go That Extra Mile (London, UK)

My accommodation during my European trip was arranged entirely through Airbnb and when I arrived in London I experienced an added level of service that I could never have predicted.

And there’s a lesson in here for ALL business owners.

If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, they’re a community website at which you can find and book places to stay, from small guest bedrooms, to entire apartments, usually at prices far below what you’d expect to pay for staying in a hotel.

They have members offering places to stay in over 10,000 cities, in over 190 countries, and the company is going from strength to strength.

If the concept sounds a little weird, spend a little time on their website and you’ll quickly see why it works so well.


So how did Airbnb go that extra mile in my case?

Well, when I arrived in London, I received an unexpected phone call from Daniel Pristavec, a project manager with Airbnb. Daniel had noted that I had reserved 15 different residences in a short space of time and he asked if he could buy me breakfast and talk about my experience.

I realized that I wasn’t the first person to receive this kind of invitation when Daniel arrived with an Airbnb showbag and a nice guidebook, but this only made the gesture all the more impressive.

I later learned that, at any given time, there are around 4000 people staying in London at Airbnb accommodations. Clearly they can’t get around to meeting everyone personally, so why do it all?

Daniel explained that the founder of Airbnb encourages his staff to do things that aren’t scaleable. In other words, to make customer-friendly gestures that don’t directly add to the bottom line.

This seems to me to fit in very well with the Airbnb ethos which is all about the community. They can’t meet every member personally, but by meeting a few and making a connection, they provide a small percentage of their customers with an unexpected event that leaves them with an overwhelmingly positive feeling.

And naturally this results in people talking and blogging about how great this company is.

Like, for example, this article.

The small business marketing tip? Go that extra mile for your customers.

You might not be able to contact every customer personally but why not make it a habit of picking out 1-2 each month and giving them a free gift or spending 10 minutes on the telephone to get their feedback.

Just because something doesn’t scale, doesn’t make it worthless. The ripple effect can turn one positive, customer-pleasing act, into a river of new business.

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