Airbnb: travelling in the wrong direction

arghbnb

In the next few weeks, we'll be launching a world-class referral programme for Expedia, the world’s biggest travel company. We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with a brand that’s been revered as an ecommerce pioneer for over 20 years. And we’re looking forward to working with them to bring their millions of happy customers a refer-a-friend scheme that’s more powerful, more engaging and more effective than anything the travel industry’s ever seen.

Of course, when you think referral and travel, one brand currently springs to mind: Airbnb, who became a household name on the back of their referral programme. In fact, Airbnb (along with Dropbox and Uber) just about wrote the referral rulebook - so you’d assume their scheme would be right up there with the very best. But here’s the thing: if you take a look at Airbnb’s referral programme, it’s actually starting to look worryingly out of date.

So that’s exactly what we’ve done. Below, you’ll find our expert take on Airbnb’s refer-a-friend scheme. But, first, a little history…

Airbnb Referral 1.0

Airbnb’s referral programme didn’t always look like


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12 ways to ruin your referral programme

Common referral pitfalls

Referral marketing is the fastest-growing form of customer acquisition - so much so that it’s becoming increasingly hard to find a successful brand which doesn’t operate some kind of refer-a-friend scheme.

It’s also fundamentally simple: your existing fans and customers are rewarded for telling their friends about you, those friends are incentivised to shop, everyone’s happy.

But, just because referral’s simple, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of things that can go badly awry. Sidestepping these pitfalls is easy (especially if you select a referral platform designed to avoid them), but you need to know where to look.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to show you in the slides below, citing examples where some brands have stumbled into these pitfalls while others have safely avoided them. Let’s go...


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If you're launching a referral programme, or you're worried you might be making some of these mistakes, just get in touch. We'll help you set everything right.

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Uber: lagging behind in the rearview mirror

As you may have read, we've recently launched a cutting-edge referral programme for London’s most trusted business-class car service, Addison Lee. Now, the first thing you might think when you hear "referral" and "car service" is Uber, but our intention isn't simply to replicate Uber's referral programme, but dramatically to improve upon it. If you think that's a tough call, let's step back and examine Uber's programme in more detail. You'll be surprised how much it leaves to be desired. But first, some context.

Uber's dramatic rise via referral

Back in 2012, if you’d walked up to a Londoner and said the word ‘Uber’, they probably would’ve started looking for neck tattoos and a copy of the UKIP manifesto sticking out of your pocket. Today, as Uber approaches its fifth birthday here in the capital, everyone knows you’re talking about the £50 billion cab company - and, what’s more, they probably know why you’re talking to them about Uber in the first place. You’re shilling your referral code in the hope of earning a free ride.

Referrals are one of the main reasons why Uber grew from tiny startup to dominant upstart. Back


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Man’s best (refer a) friend

First, subscription boxes revolutionised the beauty industry, with the likes of GLOSSYBOX and Birchbox. Then along came Trunk Club and The Chapar and the same subscription model turned the fashion world on its head. Now, in 2016, you can sign up for monthly boxes stuffed with everything from delicious cocktails to tools to help you get through the zombie apocalypse (we’d argue that those two are, actually, one and the same).

One of our favourites is FlinkBisk, a dog-owners’ subscription box from Norway’s Zentio Group - who also offer subscriptions across northern Europe for everything from razor blades to laundry detergent. And, as of today, FlinkBisk gets even better, with the addition of a refer-a-friend programme powered by Buyapowa. Existing customers are now equipped and incentivised to get their (human) friends signed up for regular deliveries of toys, treats and cool dog gadgets. For every friend who gets on board, they’ll receive a discount against their next payment, while the friend gets their first box for free.

Zentio are using the Buyapowa platform to handle everything from initial outreach all the way through to reward distribution, making full use of the platform’s super-simple but highly-effective plug-and-play


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Space NK: Three is the magic number

When it comes to referrals, one size definitely does not fit all. What works for a supermarket won’t work for a luxury fashion brand. What works for a mobile phone network won’t work for a casual dining chain. And, if there’s one sector which is all about finding the perfect match, it’s premium beauty - where the slightest variation in shade, smell or effect can make a massive difference.

So, it’s no wonder that the refer-a-friend programme from celebrated cosmetics retailer, Space NK, is every bit as customised - and that’s something they’ve only been able to achieve by using the uniquely-configurable Buyapowa platform. Unlike standard referral programmes, where advocates receive a reward each and every time they get a friend shopping, SpaceNK are holding back their extra-generous reward until a participant gets three friends shopping.

Now, that wouldn’t work for, say, an automotive brand but, in the world of premium beauty - where every customer is likely to have numerous friends with similar taste and style - it makes perfect sense. And, it’s something SpaceNK are able to double-down on with another unique Buyapowa feature: the referral leaderboard, where the


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