Monday, May 23, 2011

“About Us” Evaluation: Airbnb Gets an A plus

Airbnb crosses old-fashioned bed-and-breakfast lodgings with social networking, putting travelers in direct contact with private individuals willing to rent anything from a single room to a whole castle. In the 3 years since its founding in 2008, Airbnb’s property-rental listings have increased from 40 to 40,000. Airbnb was featured in a story in Entrepreneur magazine in April 2011. Its main About Us page is here.


We particularly love the intelligent use of photos on the About Us pages of this site. Airbnb is a service for travelers, and nothing makes one want to go on the road as much as a gorgeous picture of an exotic destination. But the well-thought-out use of photos goes beyond collages of exotic rentals. The Story page, for example, includes a photo of the Airbnb’s staff in their former office, with a huge map of the world on one wall. The image conveys that the company has a worldwide scope even though it’s a small operation.

We also like the graphics on the site, which are reminiscent of social networking sites such as Facebook: again, a perfect fit for the type of service Airbnb offers.

Products/Services: A plus

The About page is not about Airbnb’s founders or staff, but an explanation of the service Airbnb offers. This makes sense, given that Airbnb isn’t an intermediary in booking the rentals: guests contact hosts directly.

The only minor change we’d recommend on this page is putting the headings “Booking Made Easy” and “Host Like a Pro” side by side at the top, and demoting the “Vitals” section to a less prominent position, or even to the Press page. The statistics in “Vitals”--the company’s year of founding, current size, etc.--are not likely to persuade anyone to use the site.

Personality: A plus

The founders of the company only appear on the Team page, which is listed at the bottom of the About menu. We appreciate the fact that the founders’ bios are brief, and that each showcases a connection to Airbnb. For example, we learn that Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder, gave up his apartment last year and has since been living in rentals offered on Airbnb. (Still, Brian, can’t you find a better photo of yourself--preferably one without red eyes?)

Since many of us would be anxious about allowing complete strangers into our homes, we also appreciate the fact that the Press page offers links to stories about Airbnb that have appeared in mainstream media. Directing visitors to outside sources who can testify to the integrity, credibility, and value of your company is always an excellent move. Having the logos of the media appear makes a good impression even on those who don’t click on the links.

Accessibility: A plus

It’s pleasantly easy to contact the host of any place listed or to list your own space for rental. The contact for Airbnb (which far fewer visitors would need on this sort of site) is in the footer.


Airbnb’s About Us pages offer enticing visuals and emphasize the social networking aspect of the company, rather than the company’s employees: an intelligent choice given the type of service they offer. Appropriate About Us content is always determined by the products and services offered.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation.

Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.