In 2014, Mattieu Jost and his partner booked a dream vacation to beautiful Barcelona using a popular travel-hospitality app. When they arrived at their destination, the couple was disappointed — but not shocked — by the anti-gay sentiment they encountered. Only, the intolerance wasn’t directed at them in a restaurant or by an outspoken passerby. It was by the woman who agreed to host the pair in her home. When she opened the door to greet the couple, she asked if they intended to sleep in the same bed. That’s where the vacation ended and the idea for misterb&b began.
Back home, Mattieu pitched an idea: It’s a new kind of travel and lodging marketplace, for LGBT travelers and gay-friendly hosts. Investors loved the idea and a popular tech accelerator in San Francisco took the founders under their wing. The future was promising, but their mentors at 500 Startups identified a huge hiccup in the way the team was analyzing and quantifying core metrics.
misterb&b was already fully operational when an advisor at 500 Startups asked which tools the team was using to track the app’s customer journey, evaluate funnel activity, and test the user interface. But there were no tools. For years, the highly experienced misterb&b team members had successful careers building SaaS platforms and optimizing customer journey experiences at other startups and established businesses. So they relied on common sense and applied theories that proved successful in the past.
There’s a general understanding that if something isn’t broken, then you don’t fix it. What makes misterb&b founders so unique is that even though they were growing at record speed and adding 25 new employees each year, management recognized they were operating without hard data. So the team jumped at the chance to implement Mixpanel to continue iterating and improving its customer experience.
Increasing conversions and bookings
misterb&b had a conversion rate it thought was pretty good. Of all the users that entered the booking funnel, about 45% finalized their travel itinerary and paid for lodging. But after project managers performed a customer journey analysis using Mixpanel, they were hit with some sobering facts. Many users were dropping off during a three-step booking process. To understand what was happening, the team eliminated one of the steps. Then they conducted A/B tests on the newly designed funnel, including the streamlined two-step reservation process. These changes resulted in a 20% jump in customer conversions. The number of users that entered the booking funnel and paid for their reservation skyrocket to about 65%.
Uncovering major flaws in the user interface
Using Mixpanel also helped the team identify flaws in the site’s UI, such as a partially concealed button that was designed to connect travelers and hosts. The flaw frustrated users to the point that they dropped out of the funnel. Those customers weren’t on the fence about paying for their travel reservations; they intentionally logged on to misterb&b for the purpose of completing their vacation itinerary. They simply couldn’t navigate the booking page. As soon as misterb&b designers gave the UI a facelift, the number of completed reservations soared. “The improvement to our conversions was amazing,” said Francois.
The misterb&b team used Mixpanel to analyze the customer journey, increase conversions, nudge more people through the flow, and create a better UI for its users. Having achieved a lot of its customer conversion goals, next on the agenda is to focus on channel acquisition, says de Landes. “We’d like to improve our top-of-the-funnel user experience, which is still a pretty new strategy for us.” The team believes there’s an enormous amount of growth potential there. misterb&b product and tech managers have already implemented Mixpanel to identify their channel acquisition prospects. “If we can use Mixpanel to increase conversions by 20%, then we can only imagine what we’ll accomplish once we iron out certain issues at the top of the funnel,” says de Landes.