If you’re an absentee Airbnb host renting out your house or apartment, you’ll soon have no need to feel guilty about leaving your guests hanging. You’ll be able to move on from sticky notes and large binders full of confusing instructions and take a more tech-savvy spin with Ping. The Ping solution provides a collection of “touchpoints” (kind of like those famous Staples’ “Easy” buttons) placed throughout a home that register on an occupant’s smart phone, giving them a digital guide to all the relevant rooms and rules.
Each Ping is a piece of hardware comprised of a wooden base and a top surface that matches Airbnb’s salmon theme (the target market is far from a mystery). Inside each module is an NFC chip. House owners can easily program each chip to open a webpage containing their instructions. These directives can be in simple text, or they can record video/audio messages through SoundCloud if that is their preferred personable medium.
Once the NFC chip in each Ping has been programmed, hosts can leave them in relevant rooms for guests to find. The first touchpoint in each house has a hanging board accompanying it, which hosts can use to leave essential information like WiFi passwords or emergency numbers. Once guests are connected to the Internet, they can scan the NFC chip held in each touchpoint, or they can manually enter the web address. This way people with phones that don’t support NFC can still make use of the tour content.
Ping modules don’t need to be positioned close to a power socket so they can be charged; the NFC chips are replenished by small amounts each time they’re scanned. Charging functionality will need to be introduced if Bluetooth compatibility is added at a later time. But given how efficient Bluetooth LE is getting, charging will still be a relatively rare occurrence.
Ping is essentially just a dolled up NFC chip right now, but it gives Airbnb hosts who regularly rent out their properties a smooth, fashionable tactile way to welcome their guests and make them feel at home. It could confer a valuable competitive advantage in a sharing economy market that’s getting increasingly lucrative.
Estimates suggest that Airbnb will make $12.3 billion in bookings in 2016. That’s a whole $5 billion up from what they were estimated to make last year. The greater earnings for the company will certainly mean more revenue for more people leveraging the platform to rent their homes. There are already Airbnb hosts who run six-figure businesses using the service. With all that money at stake, Ping is one of the ways property owners can give their guests a frictionless experience. It could also mean more repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals, which is a major driver of revenue for house renters.
Ping is currently under development and launch details are yet to be released. You can sign up to be a beta user on their website.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.