Meituan Homestay User Experience Report

Explore the Meituan Homestay app features, a go-to platform for young travellers seeking a personalized accommodation experience.
When it comes to "homestay", Airbnb and Tujia should come to mind. Meituan Homestay, which joined in 2017, has been quick to seize the top three spots in homestay platforms. In 2020, its order volume ranked first in China. Are there more reasons for its success other than its strong brand and the vast flow generated by Meituan reviews? Today, we will understand this product by analyzing its strengths and weaknesses from a user's perspective. 
Target users
According to Yunzhanggui’s “2020 Homestay Industry Data Report”, the users of homestay are generally young, with 70% of users below 35 years old. This is why Meituan Homestay aims at young people pursuing individuality and launched many marketing strategies targeting student users. 

Product architecture 
The product architecture will be based on Meituan Homestay (V5.2.1).

Product experience
1. Searching and browsing houses
The home page is clean with a straightforward search function. Search methods can be divided into the following categories:  
  • In the search bar, search directly by selecting location, check-in time and landmarks.
  • Tenants with special requirements such as cooking can input search with corresponding filters. 
  • Tenants who want to stay in famous landmarks can search through the "popular places to stay" section. 
  • Tenants who wish to reserve famous homestays can gain information from the "Hot Search List", "Super IN celebrity", and "High Score Experience" in the "Recommendation Zone". 
  • Tenants who have no special requirement can view the “guess you like” section to get inspirations.

The search result page is arranged in a neat column. The individual labels on top can filter specific features of the house base on your requirements. Labels are also shown on each listing, making it more convenient for you to choose. 
Prices and discounts are indicated in bold and red. There are also taglines such as "limited time offer" to promote reservation.  
2. Viewing details
The “housing detail” page shows the pictures, price, brief introduction, service facilities, landlord introduction, evaluation, reservation notice of the house, and recommendations of similar places. The photo album at the top has pictures introducing different parts of the house. This allows users to browse the house holistically. Apart from the information above, the page also includes nearby public transportation, scenic spots and food choices, making it convenient for the tenants to plan their trip.

3. Reservation procedure
Users can place the order once the choice is confirmed. Tenants can check or revise the time, the number of tenants, and tenant information on the final order page and pay upon submitting. 
As the landlords instruct the reservation rules, there is no standardized procedure. Consumers risk no refund or partial refund upon cancelling a reservation, depending on the landlord's written rules. If the rules are obscure, disputes may arise.

4. Other functions
The discovery page of Meituan Homestay recommends houses through articles. This page consists of three types of articles: popular written articles, reviews by celebrities and recommended homestays. Apart from internal content creation, Meituan Homestay also pays users for review articles. Users whose articles are adopted can enjoy discounts on the platform.
Product Operation and promotion
1. Discount and Special offer 
Discounts and special offer can be divided into three types: discount for a special user group, general discount, and limited time offer.  
Discounts for a special user group are mainly for student users. Upon successful verification, student users will receive discount and cashback coupons. The Student verification icon is shown in every interface to stimulate users to verify their identity before purchase.
General discounts are shown as "Tonight's Special" and "New House Discount" to attract users and promote sales, while limited time offer happens during particular days or events such as Valentine's Day and Christmas, strategically promoting houses that match the occasion.
2. Self-propagation and publicity
Meituan Homestay's new user invitation plan and bargain discount by forwarding posts to friends help grow the user platform through self-propagation. Besides, the platform also promotes through Weibo, short video platforms, Wechat public account and other media platforms, attracting users on a large scale.
Since 2019, Meituan Homestay has cooperated with Modern Sky Co. Ltd., Taihe Rye Music Co. Ltd., and entities to host music festivals. It has collaborated with VUE to host the “Unbridled playing, unbridled recording” vlog competition. In addition, the platform works with schools to provide experiential learning and working experience through opportunities like “Superstar Evolution Camp” to build employer branding and attract future talent.
3. PUSH Advertisements
Meituan Homestay utilizes PUSH advertisements daily to remind users of the ongoing discount activities and coupon offerings.
Conclusion and suggestions
1. Highlights
Detailed labelling: The biggest highlight of Meituan Homestay is its detailed labels and referral traffic. On the home page, there are 15 featured labels, and labels are set in every section. This makes it very convenient for users to filter according to their search requirements. In addition, the platform has over ten hotlists based on diverse categories, which allow users to discover their popular choices efficiently. 
Discounts and offers: As Meituan Homestay’s target users belong to a younger generation, they are more sensitive to price. This is why the platform focuses on promoting discounted items to attract purchase decisions. Offers and discounts are always bolded in red to increase visibility. 
User-friendly design: The “scroll back to top” button in the “favourites” page, classification of pictures according to the location of the house and display of estimated travel time by different modes of transportation are all examples that make this platform a user-centric one.
2. Weaknesses
Design: The homepage uses too many colours. The banner design is also unreasonable as the content repeats what is shown in the bar. The contents of many elements on the home page overlap, which makes the overall experience less pleasant. 
Functionality: Many interfaces lack the “scroll back to top” button, while the messages interface lacks the one-click "mark all as read" function. The “favourites” page also lacks functionality. It cannot sort the listings based on filters and other rankings.
Personal home page: The profile page is overly simplified and poorly designed. "My orders" are not classified according to the order status, making the list challenging to navigate. The “itinerary” and “review” functions are not interactive and therefore deemed as unusable.
3. Suggestions

Here are some suggestions based on what we have discussed so far:
Improve the page design and the functions of some components to avoid overlapping.
  • Maintain high standards for the quality of houses and the qualifications of landlords. Enhance customer service and optimize after-sales services.  
  • Add functions such as sorting and classification on the “favourites” page. A “share” button is helpful to make the page more interactive.
  • In the “view house details” page, link the recommendations to eat, stay, travel and play with other Meituan APPs. This forms a closed-loop ecosystem which helps to build Meituan’s growth.
  • Allow reviews for landlords and list the reviews on their homepage. 
  • Enable reviews to be sorted by time, critical comments, only reviews with pictures, and others. Interactive functions such as “like” and “reply” will allow tenants to communicate and perceive the reviews as authentic.
  • Short videos can be included on the discovery page. At the same time, User Generated Content (UGC) created by tenants or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) can help to enrich the community atmosphere.