To rent out a city studio for the weekend or book an offbeat sea-facing summer retreat, Airbnb’s traveling community is increasingly relying on smartphones and tablets to firm up their travel plans. Airbnb says that more than 25% of its traffic now comes from trip planners on mobile devices. And about half of those are iOS users, with 1 million people around the world using the Airbnb iPhone app. One user perk: Mobile devices are speeding up the booking process too, Airbnb says.
"Traveling is inherently a mobile activity," Andrew Vilcsak, mobile platform lead for Airbnb tells Fast Company, and so, he believes, anyone should be able to book a place while on the go.
Messaging—which is the principal channel of communication between a potential renter and traveler—is a big contributor to that. People reply to Airbnb messages three times as fast from a mobile device, according to Airbnb’s estimate. In fact, there is an Airbnb message being sent from a mobile device every five seconds.
The mobile apps were built to replicate every booking convenience that web-based Airbnb offers. That’s because Airbnb wants the impromptu traveler to be able to manage their entire booking or listing from their mobile device.
"The average traveler does not have a laptop with them; they may have an iPad," says Vilcsak. "They certainly will have some sort of mobile device. When we look at mobile we think it’s exceptionally important for us because in many cases mobile is the only way to access Airbnb."