NEW YORK: Airbnb, the online accommodation platform, relies on a “holistic” research strategy that blends qualitative and quantitative insights in order to understand the requirements of its guests and hosts.

Judd Antin, Director/Research at Airbnb, discussed this subject at the 2017 Strategy Festival held by the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

“To do great strategy – to build great things – you need a holistic perspective. So that’s what we’ve built on [at] Airbnb research,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Airbnb’s formula for generating insights.)

“We certainly want to strive for great answers; we certainly strive for great strategy. And we know that, to do that, it requires a truly holistic perspective.”

Some questions Airbnb’s research team might ask, he added, are “What should we build and why?”, and “How do we deeply understand our global guests and hosts well enough to make really, truly informed design and product decisions for a global community?”

In tackling such problems, the company can draw on data from 200 million travellers who have used Airbnb to pick from three million listings across 65,000 cities in 191 countries.

Equally important, however, is securing qualitative insights that can enrich this critical mass of statistics with more granular, personal details.

“Data is powerful, but it has no soul. It is necessary, but insufficient, for good strategy and good products,” Antin said in describing the company’s favoured research formula.

As hinted at by Airbnb’s scale and reach, its research objectives are also global in nature. But its slate of insights must be locally relevant to help the brand make an impact at the level of individual markets, too.

“Travel is cross-cultural,” Antin said. “In a huge proportion of stays, hosts and guests on Airbnb speak a different first language.

“Just think of that by itself as a need to have a global holistic perspective on humans. Not just what clicks can tell us, but humans.”

Airbnb received an “Inspiration Award” from the 4A’s during the Strategy Festival. These honours – handed out for the first time this year – recognise organisations that inspire planners by using insights to make a difference, both in the business world and beyond.

Data sourced from WARC