The Ask a Superhost program is central to Airbnb’s plan to get more supply, and in a cost-effective way. We detailed the Airbnb Ambassador program before. Time to have a look at the Superhost Ambassador and Ask a Superhost programs. These initiatives build on top of each other, yet offer different rights to hosts. For instance, only Superhost Ambassadors can apply for the Ask a Superhost program and get referrals directly from Airbnb. The company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, emphasized the success of Ask a Superhost during his latest public interventions and announced its roll-out across 196 countries. Airbnb is also now heavily advertising the program on social media. What does Ask a Superhost look like to would-be hosts? How can hosts get an invitation to become a Superhost Ambassador? What does the “Ask a Superhost questionnaire” that applicants have to fill in look like?
Let’s find out in our exclusive report.
How do we know that Ask a Superhost is a big deal for Airbnb and Brian Chesky?
Ask a Superhost is key to helping Airbnb onboard would-be host in an effective and cost-efficent way
During the earnings call covering Airbnb’s Q3 2021 financial results, as well as when announcing the new features of the 2021 Winter Release, the company’s CEO talked a lot about the Ask a Superhost program.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on Airbnb to find new listings:
- Supply in key cities has collapsed (e.g. 75% fewer active listings in 2021 than in 2019 in Prague and Amsterdam)
- The preference for the outdoors has forced Airbnb to find new listings in rural, seaside, and mountain regions.
Cost is also a major factor. It would be physically impossible to allocate an Airbnb account manager to each new host. There are just not enough Airbnb employees to take care of the thousands of hosts starting out. It would also be prohibitively expensive to do so. To make up for the salary of an Airbnb employee, each of them would have to fix the listings of hundreds of Airbnb hosts.
Onboarding new hosts is costly, especially with people who are brand new at hosting and a managing a listing online. If these newbies were to call Airbnb for each and every question they have, the costs for Airbnb’s customer service department would explode.
You also have to factor in that some of these hosts will only open their place for a few weeks per year to travelers. So, the expected revenues and service fees for Airbnb may not be able to cover the onboarding costs.
So, how about pairing the best Airbnb hosts with the new ones who are asking for help? How about rewarding them with hundreds of dollars, each time a new host gets their first stay done?
The final factor is that a lot of people land on Airbnb’s page about starting hosting, but are not quite ready to create a listing or host. How to take care of these leads, in a caring, efficient, and cost-effective way? A live chat function would be flooded with questions. This is where the Ask a Superhost program comes in.
Brian Chesky has extended the pilot globally and says it’s working
Ask a Superhost is an extension of the Airbnb Ambassador program. During the 2021 Winter Release, we learnt that it was now active in over 30 languages in 196 countries. Prospective Hosts are paired with Superhosts based on their location, language, and listing. More than 60,000 prospective Hosts have used Ask a Superhost.
Superhosts get a big financial reward when their mentee get their first stay “stayed”, i.e. after check-out. The speed to the first booking is then a key success metric of the program. Here’s what Brian Chesky shared about it:
50% of new listings receiving a booking in three days,75% of new listings receiving a booking within eight days.
Airbnb is spending money promoting Ask a Superhost in ads (e.g; on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube)
On social media, Airbnb has ramped up its spending on ads that promote Ask a Superhost. From ads to partnerships with influencers, Airbnb wants to convince would-be hosts to take the plunge.
The smiling, reassuring faces of Superhosts are there to convey to people on the fence that they will not be alone through the process. For SAAS companies, creating a successful user onboarding process has become a science. Usually, it is done with as much automation as possible. Here, by adding real people, i.e. Superhosts into the onboarding process, Airbnb is turning it an art: Superhosts are not scalable per se, but the process of matching them with new hosts, one by one, can be scaled.
Video: Ask a Superhost commercial
Visuals from the Ask a Superhost campaign
Ad copy: Questions about hosting? Now you can “Ask a Superhost”, and get 1:1 help from our most experienced Hosts. Just ask away.
Instagram influencer apparently being part of a webinar held by a Superhost.
Here’s the (not super natural-sounding) text posted by an influencer:
New @airbnb program, Ask a Superhost, connects potential Hosts with normal people who host everyday! It was a great opportunity for me to ask someone who’s not only done it for a while, but has been incredibly successful at it, all my burning questions to see if hosting was right for me!
What does the Ask a Superhost program look like, from a new host point of view?
On the page where people can find out more about how to start hosting with Airbnb or even start listing their property, Ask a Superhost is very visible.
If you know what you are doing and how to create your listing, you can just go and do it. Yet, if you are on the fence, the “Become a host” pages have a very reassuring tone.
Try hosting on Airbnb.
Join us. We’ll help you every step of the way.
By nature, “Ask a Superhost” is a call to action. Fittingly, it is featured on several buttons across Airbnb’s Hosting pages.
How can you enroll in the Ask a SuperHost program and start making money by helping and educating new hosts?
Step 1: How to become a SuperHost
Superhost: No application needed
- You will automatically become a Superhost if you meet the program requirements and do not need to apply
- Your Superhost badge will show up on your listing within 1 week
- Evaluation of your hosting performance is done every quarter, based on your hosting over the past 12 months
- Each quarterly assessment is a 5 day period, beginning on January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and October 1st
Note that the Superhost status is on the account level, not on the listing level. If you have only one property, then the criteria depend on the performance of your one listing. If you are the primary host (e.g. owner) of several properties on Airbnb, then the criteria apply to your account level. For instance, the overall rating must 4.8+ for the average of all your ratings across all your properties.
Here are Superhost criteria:
- Completed at least 10 trips or 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
- Maintained a 90% response rate or higher
- Maintained a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower, with exceptions made for those that fall under our Extenuating Circumstances policy
- Maintained a 4.8 overall rating (based on the date the guest left a review, not the date they checked out, over the past 365 days)
Step 2: How to become a Superhost Ambassador
Airbnb Ambassador (any host can apply) vs. Superhost Ambassador (invite-only)
Theoretically, the Airbnb Ambassador is separate from the Superhost Ambassador. In practice, they end up using much of the same educational resources and tools, such as the referral dashboard.
The two major differences between the Ambassador and Superhost Ambassador programs are:
- Any host can apply for the regular Airbnb Ambassador program. By contrast, the Superhost Ambassador program is by invitation only (and you have to be a Superhost, of course). So, Airbnb picks who can be among the applicants can become an Ambassador. The company also decides who to whom it extends an invitation to become a Superhost Ambassador.
- Only Superhost Ambassadors can then apply for the Ask a Superhost program. If you are invited to become a Superhost Ambassador, you have access to the referral program and some education. But you Airbnb will not put you into contact with new hosts unless you apply for the Ask a Superhost program and they pick you. (see below for more details)
- The standard Ambassador dashboard, whick tracks referrals, has fewer features than the dashboard that Superhost Ambassadors can use once they’re part of the Ask a Superhost program.
How to apply to become an Airbnb Ambassador and guide new hosts, earn more cash (this is NOT the Superhost Ambassador program!)
The Airbnb Ambassador Program‘s goal is to help Airbnb grow its supply of properties by getting existing hosts, called Airbnb Ambassadors, to refer new hosts to the platform. In just a few words: “Guide new hosts, earn more cash”.
It is more than a referral program where a host can casually get some side money by sharing a link online. Airbnb treats ambassadors as crafty, nimble, and smart independent entrepreneurs who have to:
- search for news hosts, both offline (e.g., by organizing meetups in their city) and online (e.g. by inserting referral links in their Instagram account),
- onboard and train their mentees (e.g., by organizing their own webinar) until they complete their first reservation.
Ambassadors make money where the property they’ve referred gets its first booking. So, ambassadors have to do everything they can so that their mentees create their listing, add good photos, price it well, make the listing live, secure a first booking, and have a first stay that checks out.
Airbnb discreetly started the Ambassador program in late November 2020. A few weeks later, we revealed how the program worked. Unlike the former referral program, whereby any host could earn more by referring new hosts, hosts have to fill in a formal application form and wait to see whether they qualify.
Here are the steps:
- Go to https://www.airbnb.com/ambassadors/apply
- Join Airbnb or log in to your account
- Agree to the program rules. You’ll learn what it means to be an Ambassador for Airbnb.
- Tell Airbnb about yourself. This is your turn to let Airbnb know why you’d be a great Ambassador.
- Submit your application. You’ll receive an email with the decision about your application a few days after it’s submitted.
What are the activities that Ambassadors (and Superhost Ambassadors) can participate in to make more money?
Here are a few things that these individual entrepreneurs can do to find and attract new hosts on behalf of Airbnb:
- Online host recruitment strategies:
- Refer people to Airbnb by sharing referral links
- Connect with potential hosts on public forums or networking groups (e.g. Facebook Groups)
- Leverage your own social media platform (e.g. Instagram)
- Create an online hosting course or webinar
- Offline host recruitment strategies:
- Distribute business cards or flyers within your community
- Create a local mailing campaign
- Lead or co-lead an event to share the benefits of hosting
- Attend a hosting, real estate, or finance networking event
The Ambassador dashboard (regular Ambassador version)
To create and track referrals, Ambassadors have access to a dashboard. It is quite similar to the former Referral Program dashboard. Here’s how Airbnb describes it:
To refer potential Hosts, go to your Ambassador Dashboard, copy your unique referral link, and share it through your preferred channels: messages, emails, social media, etc. Potential Hosts who use your referral link will land on a customised page with your name and profile picture, where they can create a new listing. Please remember that you’ll only receive an award for the referral if the new Host you refer follows your unique invitation link and creates a listing in the same session.
Ambassadors also have access to an upgraded Host inbox, where they find an Ambassador folder. This is where the messages from and to their referred hosts are stored.
Superhost Ambassadors: By invite-only from Airbnb
You cannot apply for the Superhost Ambassador role. Airbnb say:
You were invited because we believe in your hosting skills and we’re impressed with your record of offering 5-star stay.
It means that Airbnb has a secret sauce / set of criteria to decide to whom it will extend an invitation. We can guess that it has to do with how long you’ve been a Superhost, whether you were able to refer other hosts in the past, how much demand there is in your market for help from new hosts, how much supply Airbnb needs in some markets. Now the program is scaling up, the criteria may loosen up a bit.
Step 3: How to apply for the “Ask a SuperHost” program
Now if you’ve been invited a Superhost Ambassador, you can fill in the Ask a Superhost questionnaire to apply for this program extension.
To recap, here’s the journey for a host, from their initial status to becoming part of the Ask a Superhost group.
Host -> Superhost -> Invite to become a Superhost Ambassador -> Apply for Ask a Superhost -> You’ve made it.
The Ask A Superhost questionnaire
This is what Airbnb states:
The Ask a Superhost questionnaire is only available to approved Superhost Ambassadors. Once you complete it, we’ll start sending new Hosts your way.
From the beginning, this programme was designed to connect you with new Hosts, so you’ll have the opportunity to share your personalised hosting skills and insights. We hope that this is a chance for you to make some great connections – and have a little fun.
The questionnaire is here to make sure that Superhost Ambassadors have read some of the materials about Ask a Superhost. The test is not very hard to pass. For instance, here’s a question:
What are some ways that Superhost Ambassadors can support their new Hosts?
- Share their personal hosting experience and insights
- Answer new Host questions
- Share Airbnb resources
- Edit a listing on behalf of a new Host
- All of the above
The Superhost Ambassador dashboard
Just as explained above for regular Ambassadors, the Dashboard is where most of the action takes place, from tracking commissions to initiating communication with hosts matched by Airbnb.
Through the Ask a Superhost funnel, Airbnb matches new hosts with Superhost Ambassadors.
To track the progress of new hosts they’ve been matched with, Superhosts Ambassadors can turn to their own version of the Ambassador Dashboard. Here’s what they can see:
- The names of all the new Hosts they’ve matched with
- How far along each new Host has come in listing their space
- How long each new Host has to complete a qualifying stay
Yet, the Superhost Ambassador Dashboard is not just about tracking referrals. It is also the interface through which Superhosts can:
- Communicate with the new Hosts they’re in charge of. For instance, they can check out on them and ask whether they need any help.
- Request the edit access of a new Host’s listing. With edit access, a Superhost Ambassador can update the listing title and description, photo captions, and more.
Ask a Superhost has become an important tool for Airbnb.
It is a clever repurposing of an existing program (the former host referral program) applied to the pressing need of finding more supply through crafty entrepreneurs (Ambassador Program). Ask a Superhost is based on an invite-only version of the Ambassador program, whereby Superhosts Ambassadors are requested to sign up for the program extension.
By sharing their knowledge, these Superhosts help Airbnb get new supply. They also form a sort of first-line host support service: Most of the time, there is not much work for Superhosts to do. Yet, a few of the new hosts may have a lot of questions. If an Airbnb employee were to answer each and every question, the ROI of onboarding these hosts would be negative for Airbnb. Here, the company is outsourcing part of the potential customer service costs to Superhosts.
Airbnb has found a way to make its onboarding process more human, while probably speeding up the average time for a listing to go live and get a booking. The company may also have found a way to make new hosts more profitable, by decreasing the number of times new hosts call the official Airbnb host support line.