In 2007, two roommates were having trouble paying their rent, so they blew up some inflatable mattresses, put them down in their living room, and promoted that as a bed and breakfast. Those air mattresses are the reason “AirBnB” is called “AirBnb.”

As the AirBnB idea evolved into the  website/app that connects guests and hosts, the founders posed a hypothesis. They suspected that rental properties on their site that featured high quality professional photographs would receive more bookings than the average property. Potential renters, they posited, would
see these vivid, immersive photos, and be able to imagine themselves in the spaces. They would think “I want to have that experience.” AirBnB put the hypothesis to the test, and it proved out. In fact, the professionally photographed properties received 2-3 times as many bookings as the market average. Imagine having an actionable metric that shows you exactly what you can do to grow your business by 2-300%!

So AirBnB began to offer professional photography services to their hosts. By mid-2011, AirBnB had 20 photographers out capturing host’s properties. They continued to build out the business and the technology. And during the key years of hockey-stick shaped growth for AirBnB, the one key actionable metric they focused on was number of photoshoots booked per month.

High quality photography has become ubiquitous on the web, much of it sourced from stock photography sites. It’s easy to lose track of why it’s so important. Even when the subject matter in a photo is only abstractly related to the product being promoted, the emotional connection often transfers to the product—particularly when an image generates that “I want to have that experience” feeling.

When your prospects visit your website, do the images help them imagine a great experience working with your company? If  you need help getting that done, reach out to Bruck Marketing. We would love to learn more about your business and help amplify your story.

The full story of AirBnB’s meteoric rise is fascinating. Check out the first-hand account from Brian Chesky in this Medium interview. And for more about AirBnB’s hypothesis, testing, and implementation related to professional photography, check out Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz.

So far, in this blog series, we’ve talked about creating great customer experiences and amplifying those experiences through imagery. In our next installment, we’ll go back 25 years to the moment an industry shifted from talking about value, to telling stories that helped customers visualize great experiences. It’s one of the most successful campaigns in marketing history. Can you guess which one?

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