Montego Bay: a winning customer experience model for Airbnb

Customer experience

“I don’t think that’s a good idea”, she said. “If I pay for it, will you consider staying on a resort?” My mother is a master negotiator, but I had made my mind up. I was going to travel abroad, and I was going to do it the Millennial way. Instead of staying at a luscious, plush resort with my good friend, his soon-to-be bride and host of family and friends, I was going to stay in a private residence hosted by an Airbnb user, with outstanding reviews of course.

Back in the spring of 2016, I got my invite to the Montego Bay nuptial ceremonies, but the idea of another destination wedding gave me both feelings of joy and pain. I reminisced on a December 2015 trip to Playa Del Carmen to see another close friend off into a new life with his fiance. The resort was beautiful. The tropical weather was amazing, and that was one of the best vacations I had taken in some time. However, I really was not in the best fiscal position for such a luxurious escapade. Flash forward back to spring 2016, I had just relocated from DC to Richmond to start a new role. I was earning a little less in my new role and taking on the cost of rent after stepping out of my 1 BDR apartment in my mother’s basement. On top of that, I was still supporting my little one and doing my best to make those pesky student loans disappear. Needless to say, there was not much saving happening.

I wanted to be there. I wanted to celebrate this union. I asked myself, “How am I going to save enough to make this trip?” That’s when the strategist in me started to kick in. “Split the cost!”, I said. My cousin and friend decided to make the trip with me, but even with three people, we felt there were more costs to be saved. We looked at local hotels but weren’t sure of the quality we’d be getting in exchange for the lower prices. Then, I proposed Airbnb abroad. We looked around for private residences that could host 3 people and found a host by the name of Raquel and her 2 BDR condo with beach view. It was just minutes from the airport, beach and restaurants. In her description, she hinted at access to a driver and restaurants nearby. We were optimistic but skeptical. As great as it sounded, we were going to be in a different country without the safety net of a resort. There’d be no security gates. There was no customer service standard to expect in our interactions at restaurants and shops. We were responsible for our own food, travel and were pretty much on our own.

Many may read this and say, “That’s to be expected”, but for someone like me whose international experiences have pretty much all been associated with resorts in some way, this is was a bit of an adventure, but I reveled in the possibilities. All our skepticism was put to rest as soon as Raquel pulled up to the airport to pick us up and take us to our temporary home. Raquel, her friends and the local businesses made this trip everything I wanted and much more. This experience has made me an ambassador of sorts for all the great things an Airbnb stay could be abroad (or domestic) if hosts follow the model customer experience offered to us. No worries, I’ll share the wealth below.

Help your customers get “settled”

Our host could’ve easily met us to give access to her property and left. Instead, she picked us up from the airport. She made sure we got our first meal, stopped us by a local market for snacks, gave us a quick tour of the area and walked us through all of the amenities at her property.

Too often brands are encouraged to make the sale and immediately start working on the next one. Sure, you could make a sale, but do your customers know how to make the best of the product, service or experience they just bought? Do your customers understand the true value of the offer they just accepted? If the answer is, “No”, then you haven’t helped them get settled, and you may be exposing yourself to the risk of a frustrated customer which can be almost as bad as an unsatisfied one. Whether through product packaging, customer messaging or outstanding agent interactions, make sure you help your customers settle in before sending them on their way.

Call your customers first

Our host either called or texted us first thing in the morning to check and see if we had any questions or needs. If she didn’t call us first, she was very responsive when we reached out.

Being proactive can help you pre-empt negative customer experiences. Simply asking, “Is everything okay?” can either confirm satisfaction or keep your customers from making a call out of a frustration or dissatisfaction. Scope proactivity into your automation with event-triggered messages timed around customer actions or milestones associated with your product, service or experience. Sometimes, just checking in can solidify a long lasting relationship.

Teams make dreams come true

Even when our host was not available, there was someone around for us to look to for help and guidance. She’d built meaningful relationships with the folks who secured and serviced the property we were staying in. It was also evident that she trusted the businesses she recommended we visit. There was an implicit sense of teamwork and comradery present that made us comfortable and let us know we were in good hands.

It’s cliche, but every individual has a role to play. Everyone we interacted with per our host’s recommendations was personable and friendly, but most of all, they were stellar in their roles from manning the jerk grill, to describing unfamiliar dishes and getting us set up in our temporary umbrella hangout during a beach visit.

All of these interactions culminated to make our Airbnb stay abroad a dream vacation, and I would encourage anyone with a stake in customer facing experiences, products or services to look to this Montego Bay experience as a model for good customer service.

Oh, and if you’re thinking about making a trip to Montego Bay, book your Airbnb here.

These are the best customer experiences for sneakerheads

Customer experience

The sneaker industry is big business. So big, in fact, that it’s worth over $50B annually according to a 2016 Business Insider report. Are you not impressed, yet? The same report valued the sneaker resale market at over $1B. That’s right. The global market for shoes that were purchased but not used or worn  is worth over a billion dollars. With athletic shoes driving so much value, it’s no coincidence that brands and retailers alike have been making huge investments in their sale and resale experiences to align with the behaviors of sneakerheads. From mobile-first digital experiences to sleek and modern retail design, sneaker brands and shops recognize the value of customer experience and have committed to making sneaker purchases easy as possible.

With all of the new attention being paid to the sneaker customer experience, we wanted to know which was the best. We talked to a few sneaker enthusiasts about their favorite sneaker experiences to find out which were the best in the market. We ranked the best customer experiences for sneakerheads by the responses we received and a few other factors that are important to them like the likelihood of successfully ordering your shoe of choice, delivery/pick up guarantee, price, ease in completing a purchase and customer service.

So, here are our picks for best customer experiences for sneakerheads.



“GOAT” conversations are prime for social media banter. You know how it starts. “Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of all time”, says one LBJ zealot. Then, another user replies, “6 rings!”, alluding to the greatness of Michael Jordan. This post may not go viral, but according to our group of sneaker enthusiasts, the GOAT app is the greatest sneaker app of all time, and after using it, it’s not hard to see why their customer experience would be deemed the best in market.

In this hyper marketplace where popular models are never produced to meet the true demand, many hopefuls come up short in their bid to own a pair of the latest releases. That’s a huge reason why the resale market is so valuable, and this is where GOAT inserts its value. Users can find almost any shoe with GOAT boasting over 125,000 authentic kicks for sale. GOAT guarantees authenticity by stepping in as a 3rd-party guarantor before sending kicks to their new homes. Don’t see your shoe of choice for sale? Sign up for alerts when they become available. Users can even use a market trend tool to track price trends that inform pricing for purchases and offers from buyers.

We give GOAT’s customer experience 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Likelihood to successfully order your shoe of choice ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Delivery or pick up guarantee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Ease in completing a purchase ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Customer service ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


After competitors like Under Armour and adidas ate up its shares in 2015 and 2016, Nike is making a return to dominance in the athletic apparel space mostly due to product innovation through their growing VaporMax line and popular collaborations with design houses like Off White by Virgil Abloh. Investment firm, Guggenheim Securities, also pointed to growing eCommerce as a key driver for Nike’s defensive stand in the marketplace, supported strongly by their app offerings which include the SNKRS app.

Tailored to align with the needs of sneaker enthusiasts, SNKRS boasts an app design approach made to complement the culture, where the Nike app mostly focuses on the sport aspect, and that’s where its customer experience shines through. SNKRS produces secret and surprise releases for exclusive products, and Nike has also used the platform to host live scavenger hunts and in-store releases. Users can queue themselves for alerts on upcoming releases from the release calendar and complete purchases in just two clicks when signed into their Nike account.

Best of luck for popular product releases, though. If you’re a few seconds too late or lacking connection to the internet, you could miss out on your next favorite pair of kicks, but exclusive releases aside, SNKRS affords a peak customer experience made specially for sneaker lovers. With Nike’s market best customer service supporting it, there’s not much lacking in the SNKRS experience.

We give SNKR’s customer experience 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Likelihood to successfully order your shoe of choice ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Delivery or pick up guarantee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Price ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ease in completing a purchase ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Customer service  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Your customers’ motivations should be the foundation to your CX strategy

Customer experience

What’s the difference between your business, brand and customer experience strategy? That’s a trick question. Your business, brand and customer experience strategies should be aligned and glued together by your customers’ motivations. Solving a market need is important, but your solution will not connect without a customer experience that supports their innermost motivations.

The nature of your customer relationships may not warrant much theater, but every interaction serves a greater purpose. Each customer interaction should deliver on your brand promise to improve your customers’ lives in some way. Your business, brand and customer strategies should be in line with each other, How do you do it?

Know your customers’ expectations, and meet them

Customer expectations are dynamic, even more so in today’s market place where shifts come swiftly. One trending topic or viral story can completely change the consumer conscience almost instantly, and consumers expect brands answer the change almost instantaneously.

Keep a pulse of your consumer conscience by fostering a community through direct brand channels and/or social media. Poll or survey often, and show gratitude for your customers’ participation. Take what you learn and incorporate into your short-term decision making. There may be innovation waiting for you in your customers’ changing needs. It’s better to stay ahead of the curve in this respect than respond.

Be transparent

Transparency is the easiest and most cost effective way to address your customers’ motivations. Customer inquiries can drive costs in time and money. Solve for this and improve your customer experience with clarity in your customer communications

Speak to their needs plainly and in clear view. Bring all impacting information to prominence in your communications and focus on the customer impact as the key takeaway for your messaging. Look to automation and artificial intelligence integration in your direct and social channels to answer the growing demand for immediate response. Never make the customer feel like they didn’t get the full answer. Being opaque can hurt your brand reputation, negatively impacting new sales and damaging existing customer relationships.

There’s no difference between your brand and customer experience

Brand strategy, Customer experience

Merriam-Webster defines brand in a number of different ways. There’s the straightforward, farm application: a tool used to produce a brand. They also feature the more industrial use case: a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or to designate ownership. Finally, Merriam-Webster offers the more modern application of the term: a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer. No where in Merriam-Webster’s definition is there mention of customer experience, and that means it’s time for an update.

In a 2011 Forbes op-ed, brand expert Jerry Malaughlin said brands exist only in the abstract:

Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.  It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic).  Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it.  It’s fixed.  But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.

This is true to an extent, but there’s much more to be said about the customer experiences that drive brand eminence in the modern marketplace. The ease of navigating Chipotle’s line to order was a key component of the fast-casual restaurant’s initial rise to prominence. Amazon’s commitment to quality customer convenience has transformed the retail industry, and AirBnB’s end-to-end management of the bed and breakfast experience has forced legacy hospitality brands to orient their experience to better align with expectations set by the startup.

These brands exist in prominence because of their unique customer experiences and how we interact with them in the real world. To put it simply, your customer experience is your brand in today’s marketplace. That’s why it’s important to know what gap you’re filling for your customers. Chipotle sought to provide a quality dining experience to fast food consumers. Amazon wanted to improve the retail experience, and AirBnB hoped to evolve the hospitality industry. What is your intent? If you’re unsure, then you may have an opportunity to strengthen your brand by aligning with a meaningful customer experience.

Let us help you fill in the blank. Email us at

What to learn from these disruptive brands

Brand strategy

Disruptive brands breakthrough in the marketplace. They drive innovation and impact the culture. Disruptors go left where everyone else goes right, deeply impacting legacy industries like food and beverage and creating new niches of their own.

With star power like this bunched together on one list, founders, brand strategists and product managers should take notice. These brands are finding success in business with their own, unique innovations in product design, marketing and strategy.

Big ideas are back

Humanity is facing some of its biggest challenges. From climate change to dynamic social contexts, civilization is evolving, and brands are being tasked with figuring out the answers. Some have been successful at answering the call and driving business along the way. Tesla has become a star automobile brand selling the future of automobiles with electric and intelligent cars. Others startup brands like Kasita have taken the Tesla approach, boldly attacking the growing American urban housing crisis.

Kasita makes tiny houses

Kasita’s tiny house concept.

Their $139K tiny home brings function to the quirky urban landscape, giving hope to aspiring homeowners who’ve been priced out of the market. Loaded with fully functional amenities like washer and dryer, Kasita hopes to turn empty lots into sprawling communities by stacking their tiny homes. Kasita recently opened a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, to churn out its first few orders.

Fast food from the future

Beyond Meat

No, this is not meat. This is Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat burger.

Food sits at the center of some of humanity’s greatest challenges. Climate change has disturbed ecosystems and negatively affected food supply chains. Drought and famine are becoming more common. Animal farming energy usage is unsustainable, and its waste contributes to pollution. Insert Beyond Meat, an El Segundo based start with a mission to planet-based food products to market for consumers who prefer poultry, beef and pork.

Founder Ethan Brown believes his plant-based “meat” products can solve some of the world’s toughest food challenges, and the market does too. Beyond meat has received funding from the likes of General Mills and Tysons Foods. The plant-based meat producer also has presence in large grocers like Safeway, Kroger and Whole Foods. With standout products like their Beyond Meat burger patty and grilled chicken strips, Brown hopes to expand into other meat categories as they refine their production, lower production costs and convert meat lovers too plant-based meat lovers too.

Meaningful marketing matters

Glamour products are the flagship of the beauty industry. Hair, makeup and skincare products drive the $100+ billion dollar industry, many of which are branded for and marketed to women. That may be changing behind a brand and product line for men of color. Men’s grooming line, Bevel has broken through the marketplace noise with a brand narrative that touches the core of a life experience for millions of men.

Nas gets a haircut with Bevel

Nas gets a hair cut from his barber who’s using the Bevel trimmer.

Tristan Walker set out to give men of color a grooming experience for crisp, curly hair, and the intent behind Bevel’s products has carried over into their brand story. The copy, visuals and activations all speak to a very unique cultural experience, and that’s given Bevel eminence in the marketplace. Bevel has achieved distribution in major retailers like Target and Sephora; after a successful social marketing campaign featuring rapper Nas and rollout of the Bevel trimmer, the Walker & Co. brand looks to continue its expansion through referrals and micro retail at your local barbershop.

Empowering freelancers to win and sustain business with content


Freelancing is hard. Freelancers who turn their passions and talents into products and services also have to manage their own one-man businesses. That means administering marketing, sales and projects for their clients. It can be daunting, and that’s why Space Chimp Media kick started a service to take the load off freelancers by delivering clients directly and cutting administration out of the freelance experience.

To complement Space Chimp’s mission, we pushed out a content strategy meant to further improve the freelance experience  with focus on a few key themes:

  • Increasing your productivity
  • Managing your bandwidth
  • Locating the best workspaces
  • Improving client relationships and delivery

Our content provided useful considerations for freelancers and drove Space Chimp’s inbound marketing execution, placing the agency near the top of search rankings for terms like “freelancing” and “freelance” agency.

Check out some of our content here.

Space Chimp’s ____ was improving the freelance experience by lifting the load a bit for freelancers. What’s yours?

Email us so we can help you change ______ for better.

Evolving user experience through vision mapping and research

behavioral research, user experience, Vision Mapping

Social planning can be tedious. Group texts from opposing operating systems can get lost in translation, and the consensus you thought you had could vanish into thin air. Who’s coming? Where are you meeting? How much does it cost? With social planning for large groups, our mobile devices can become more of an adversary than a solution, but what if there were a better way to user our smart phones to make plans?

That’s what developer uTapp LLC set out to do with their uTapp app.

As a startup with limited resources, uTapp launched an MVP or rough draft of their app. User feedback showed more opportunity than promise, and uTapp set its sights on improving their user experience. That’s where we stepped in.

Intent evolution

It’s very easy optimize a user experience, but to affect the social experience, we encouraged uTapp to aspire for more with their intent. In a design thinking session, we encouraged the uTapp team to flesh out their ideal app experience. What would it be, and what features would be needed to support it? What we landed on was a need to evolve the user experience, rather than optimize it.

Uncovering user motivations

We knew what we wanted, but what about the users? We showed users our ideal uTapp app. They told use how they would use it and showed us where to fill the gaps with features to support their ideal experience.

Mapping the journey

After identifying their ideal experience, we matched their views with our own to produce a vision map validated by uTapp users and their motivations. Now, uTapp has a clear look at what they need to do to change social planning for the better and help users avoid group chat turmoil.

uTapp’s ____ was social planning. What’s yours?

Email us so we can help you change _____ for better.