Nick Ang

Consumers are not stupid

Startups and established companies should not think for a moment that their users can be easily fooled. Users in 2017 are usually astute consumers who notice every detail about your product and brand.

If Airbnb asks me to input my base price and explains to me that that is the amount I am charging my guests, I will input $70 and expect my guests to be charged that amount. When I find out that potential guests viewing my listing are actually seeing $85 a night, as a user, I immediately know something is up. And I will from now on think Airbnb is a sneaky little bugger of a company.

This is a true story. I have experienced it many times since I started using Airbnb. When Mei and I hosted guests using Airbnb, we would often discover by chance that our guests paid up to $20 more per night to stay with us than we stated for our listing. Apparently Airbnb slaps on their fees directly on the per night price so that people looking for accommodation on their site will see the fees-included price on the listing. This was never made explicit to us as hosts. And while it goes unnoticed by some guests, but the sneaky move is obvious to others. All it took for everyone to find out a conversation between us and our guests.

I guess the lesson here is to make sure that whatever business decision you end up making, never be sneaky. There is not tiptoeing around users nowadays. Sooner rather than later, the cat will be out, and it will come back and hurt your business. Be upfront about as much as you can, and if a choice appears too difficult to be frank with users about, then re-evaluated the business.

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