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Airbnb May Start Booking Restaurant Tables. 4 Steps That Make Big Pivots Possible

The company recently added restaurants to their booking options.

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BY Kayla Matthews - 03 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Airbnb, the popular website that connects travelers with available rooms and homes to use as accommodations, recently expanded its service to include restaurant bookings.

Some analysts say Airbnb hopes to compete with websites like OpenTable that make it easy to reserve tables at in-demand dining establishments.

The accommodation website partnered with Resy, a restaurant booking app, and built an inventory of places to eat that visitors can browse by food type, location and time of day.

Airbnb is also working to make this new venture compatible with multiple languages. Want to pivot your business as smoothly as Airbnb did? Check out these tips.

Make Your New Solution Stand Out

One of the ways to successfully pivot your business involves making the noteworthy offering appealing by positioning it as something customers need and want.

About a year ago, Airbnb added a Trips feature that suggests fun experiences related to traveling. In addition to booking accommodations in Spain through the site, for example, a person could also buy lessons to learn how to prepare Spanish food.

Airbnb realized that individuals who visit their site to book accommodations might not be familiar with their destinations. The website conducted a survey and found that most people dine out while traveling and they'd prefer to book tables online.

Just like the Trips addition enhanced the activity side of trip planning, the ability to book tables for dinner ensures people won't go hungry as they explore new places--or even enjoy home-based "staycations" that involve trying tasty meals.

Don't Make Customers Go Elsewhere to Try the Feature

Many businesses test out new services by adding them in non-direct ways. For example, they might join forces with companies that offer the service and present them as sponsored additions.

That cautious approach could be a good way to go if you're still on the fence about providing a new service and want to see how much interest gets generated by something sponsored.

However, you'll make a bigger impact and truly pivot your business by incorporating the option directly into your site as Airbnb did.

Customers can book tables without leaving the Airbnb site. That seamless approach increases convenience and allows for improved data collection about customer habits.

Focus on Domestic Customers First

When getting ready to pivot your business, you might feel like what you're providing has an international reach because it's globally attractive. That may be true, but even Airbnb is only including dining options in the United States in its restaurant-related expansion. Granted, even so, users can pick from 650 places to quiet their growling stomachs.

Pivoting a business can help you recognize additional opportunities for growth and re-imagine your business practices.

However, it's important not to get too excited and try to roll out something internationally unless you are extremely well prepared for what's required.

By putting your efforts into top-notch experiences for customers who are close to home, you'll gain valuable insight that could help you expand your service later on. This technique often results in a higher quality of service than what would have been possible through an immediate launch.

Figure Out What Success Looks Like

Although Airbnb hasn't shared it publicly, you can be sure the business has come up with a time-based plan that determines whether the restaurant arm was a worthy addition. Before you begin implementing a business pivot, decide on concrete indicators that will reveal if the pivot succeeded within a specific timeframe.

For example, you might set a goal of getting a particular number of customers engaged per month with the newest facet of your business. It's also important to ensure the money you invest in the pivot is less than the profits it generates and that things are moving in that direction.

Through the use of these four tips, you can draw inspiration from Airbnb when pivoting your business. Remember, pivoting does not necessarily mean your initial plan isn't working. Instead, it signals you're looking for new ways to grow.