Airbnb Concierge Sucks
Airbnb Concierge Service is pretty bad.
It seems that the service was in beta and is now considered part of the core product. If that’s the case there is work to be done.
According to Airbnb’s site the Concierge Service is described as the following:
“Want a reservation to Oktoberfest in Germany? Looking for a florist in Paris? Want a reservation at a restaurant in New York? Need a car service to pick you up in San Francisco? Need directions to a spa in Iceland? Airbnb Concierge is here to take care of you.”
If only it was that easy.
This past August I took a trip to Barcelona with my fiancé and booked a room with Airbnb. The place was awesome, just as described in the listing, and our host was great at telling us what’s what. Not to mention that the El Borne district is truly an amazing neighborhood to experience Barcelona. All is good in the world.
When we tried to go see the Sagrada Familia however, things got a bit trickier.
With ridiculous lines and a very hot sun overhead, we heard that buying tickets online was the better route and would allow you to skip the entire line. Great.
Traveling without access to cellular data can be refreshing in so many ways. You’re forced to stop checking emails, tweets, stock prices, etc. But you really do begin to miss it when you need to take care of something quickly that not having 3G or 4G really begins to suck.
So what do you do? Find free wifi of course :)
Fiancé and I find an unsuspecting yogurt shop with seemingly strong connection, and buy the cheapest item on the menu so that we can feel somewhat less guilty about asking for the wifi password. Except that when we finally get onto the site to buy tickets to Sagrada Familia, the site looks like it was built in 2002 and navigating it on a mobile browser becomes close to impossible, especially with the way it handles credit card payments.
Before finally giving up I thought – hey, Airbnb has a free concierge service, why don’t we call them.
After spending nearly 45 minutes with the ‘Concierge’ over Skype wifi, I came to the conclusion that the poor soul on the other end of the line had no clue how to help me. All I needed was a semi-computer savvy individual to google “sagrada familia tickets online”, go to the page, complete an order with the CC# I’d given, and send me an email with the tickets. This of course, is much easier said then done apparently.
It seems that the breakdown in process had more to do with the lack of understanding of what a concierge is and is not. Airbnb is a global site. There should be no reason a concierge who is fluent in Spanish can’t be found. There’s no reason a concierge who understands how to use the internet at its most basic level (googling, entering payment info into a form) can’t be found. I’m sorry, I love Airbnb to death and use the service often as both a guest and a host – but the concierge program stinks.
A couple suggestions on how to fix it:
1. Hire a couple of people for the major languages spoken (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian).
2. Route calls to the most appropriate language speaker based on guests’ location.
3. Hire people who are web savvy. Don;t make me feel like I’m trying to explain to my mom how to purchase tickets online. The concierge needs to be sharp!
4. Make it work. What I mean is, don’t ever let a call end with “sorry, I’m just not sure what to do here. Wish I could be of more help”. Make it standard that an unresolved call pass on to someone higher up. This is supposed to be concierge, not customer support. Customer support typically sucks (though some companies are truly raising the bar on amazing customer support). Concierge is not supposed to suck.
What do you think? Am I overblowing this or should Airbnb strive to improve? Do you have experience with the service?