Urban Airship: incorporating push notifications improved Airbnb’s booking speed 8x

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By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Enabling push notifications in a mobile app can double its engagement level and user retention according to Urban Airship.  The startup, which provides in-app purchase and push notification services to other mobile developers, is touting the results from another growing startup — travel accommodation booking service Airbnb — as proof that push can have dramatic results.

Airbnb has been working with Urban Airship since December 2011, offering users the chance to receive push notifications whenever they receive a message about a potential rental. In situations where both the host and guest enable push notifications, Airbnb bookings are now completed up to 8 times faster.  Airbnb users who have opted to receive push notifications are also half as likely to let responses expire, and Airbnb hosts who receive push notifications will respond to inquires three times faster than when they are notified by email alone.

Thanks to its partnership with Urban Airship, Airbnb is now sending 1.5 million SMS and push notifications a month and more than 25 percent of all messages sent through the Airbnb website are received via iPhone. The number of Airbnb users that are set up to use its service via mobile has increased by 200 percent in the past three months, from 20 percent in February to 60 percent today.

While impressive, Airbnb’s push results are typical, according to Urban Airship.  Earlier this year the company released a study from another client, data compression app Onavo. That study showed Onavo was was able to increase its awareness by 75 percent and overall satisfaction by 50 percent after signing up with Urban Airship.

Although it is a multi-service company, push notifications are quickly becoming the core of Urban Airship’s business. The company is now sending 88 million push notifications a day, an impressive amount considering the it took the company just under two years to hit 20 billion push notifications, a milestone it passed in the beginning of May.

Urban Airship has so far raised $21.6 million in venture funding. The company’s Series C round closed in November and netted the company $15.1 million from Verizon and Salesforce, both of which joined as strategic investors after working with the company.