Build trust through similarity-based self-disclosure

Airbnb Airbnb engage


Airbnb prompts users to share personal information to foster a sense of connection and trust within the community.
a screenshot of the engage flow explaining how to Build trust through similarity-based self-disclosure

Business Outcome

Booking Rates

Prior to AirBnb behing a household name, reviews were scarce on the platform.

Without reviews, people were hesitant to book stays from renters they didn't know and renters hesitated to rent to bookers without a reptuation. To jump start bookings, AirBnb built trust between bookers and renters in the absence of reviews.

Behavioral Outcome

Increase Feeelings of Trust

When users share personal information, it fosters a sense of connection, authenticity, and transparency, which encourages others to engage with them and reciprocate by sharing their own information.

This behavior contributes to a positive user experience and strengthens the overall sense of community on the platform and leads to trust between the booker and the bookee.

The Behavioral Science


Users are prompted to voluntarily share personal information about themselves, such as their interests, background, and preferences. This demonstrates transparency and authenticity, helping build trust with others in the community.


When users see that others have shared personal details, they feel a sense of obligation to reciprocate due to the deeply ingrained social norm of reciprocity. This leads to a cycle of mutual trust and openness within the community.

Feeling of Trust

In a Stanford study people’s similarity in age, geographic location, etc correlated with an increase in the likelihood to rent from one another.

How It Works

The host is prompted to share personal details about herself, her family, and the purpose of their trip.

By providing this information, the host demonstrates openness and authenticity, making her profile more relatable and trustworthy to potential guests. When guests see this self-disclosure, they are more likely to reciprocate by sharing their own information, fostering a sense of connection and trust between the two parties.

How It Might Backfire

Privacy Concerns

If users feel pressured to share too much personal information or if the platform does not provide adequate privacy controls, it may lead to discomfort and reluctance to participate.

Inauthentic Sharing

If users perceive the prompts to share information as insincere or manipulative, it may erode trust instead of building it. Information Overload: If the platform becomes flooded with excessive personal details, it may become challenging for users to process and engage with the information meaningfully.

How To Test

A/B Testing

Create different versions of the user interface, with varying levels of prompts for information sharing. Monitor engagement metrics to determine the impact on user behavior.

User Surveys

Gather feedback from users about their comfort level with sharing information and the perceived benefits. Use this qualitative data to gain insights into users' experiences and preferences.

User Interviews

Conduct in-depth interviews to explore users' motivations, behaviors, and experiences related to information sharing. Identify patterns and opportunities for improvement based on these insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

To enhance a product-led growth (PLG) model using Airbnb's engage tactic, implement similarity-based self-disclosure features throughout your user onboarding and engagement processes.

Encourage users to share personal information, interests, and preferences relevant to your product. This fosters a sense of connection and trust within your user community, which is crucial for PLG. By prompting users to voluntarily disclose information about themselves, you create opportunities for users to find similarities with others, increasing engagement and retention. This approach can lead to increased booking rates or usage of your core product features, as users feel more comfortable and connected within your platform ecosystem.

To improve conversion rates using Airbnb's engage tactic, incorporate similarity-based self-disclosure elements into your user acquisition and onboarding flows.

Prompt users to share relevant personal information during the sign-up process or profile creation. This can include interests, preferences, or background details that relate to your product or service. By encouraging this self-disclosure, you create a more personalized and engaging experience, which can lead to higher conversion rates. Users who feel a sense of connection and trust with your platform are more likely to complete the conversion process, whether it's making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or fully engaging with your product features.

To optimize your website using Airbnb's engage tactic, integrate similarity-based self-disclosure features throughout your user interface and content strategy.

Create opportunities for users to share personal information, interests, and preferences on their profiles or during interactions with your website. Display this information prominently and use it to foster connections between users or to personalize their experience on your site. This approach can increase user engagement, time spent on site, and overall satisfaction with your platform. Additionally, leverage the shared information to improve your recommendation algorithms or to create more targeted content, further enhancing the user experience and website performance.

To A/B test Airbnb's engage tactic, create two versions of your user interface or onboarding process: one with similarity-based self-disclosure prompts (version A) and one without (version B).

In version A, include prompts for users to share personal information, interests, or preferences. In version B, maintain a standard interface without these additional prompts. Randomly assign users to each version and measure key metrics such as user engagement, time spent on the platform, conversion rates, and user satisfaction. Additionally, conduct user surveys to gather qualitative feedback on the perceived trust and connection users feel with your platform. Analyze the results to determine which approach leads to better outcomes for your specific product and user base.

Airbnb's engage tactic improves user experience by fostering a sense of connection, authenticity, and trust within the community.

By prompting users to share personal information, such as interests, background, and preferences, the platform creates opportunities for users to find similarities with others. This self-disclosure leads to increased feelings of trust and a stronger sense of community. Users who feel connected and understood are more likely to engage with the platform, leading to a more positive and satisfying experience. Additionally, this approach can help users make more informed decisions when interacting with others on the platform, further enhancing their overall experience and satisfaction.