Airbnb Split Payment MVP

This case study was completed as part of my UX/UI Design studies, where we were tasked with investigating adding split payments to the existing Airbnb iOS app. It was found that most users booking group accommodations would defer to third party apps or other means in order to settle group balances, so this integration removes that need while minimally altering an already successful booking experience.

UX Research
Product Strategy
UI Design
Interaction Design
Usability Testing

The Solution

In the interest of building a solution without significantly altering an already successful experience, I integrated the split payment feature into the billing section of the existing checkout experience: The primary user is given the option to choose split payments and enter identifying customer details and payment amounts, after which billing details are sent to each party.

Usability Review

The premise was an interest in booking more large parties through the app by allowing travelers to split payment across multiple payees. I conducted a survey to discover if this was a relevant case for the user, with questions covering group travel frequency, bill splitting frequency, booking services used, satisfaction with current experience, payment methods used, special accommodations required or desired.

Based on the survey feedback, there would be a large user base for group travel bill splitting, and that including it within the booking experience could ease the payment experience. Feedback stated that market share from Expedia could be grasped, some accommodation amenities added, group travel incentivized and bill split integrated seamlessly into the experience for least friction. The feedback for bill splitting suggested 40% of travel booked was for group accommodations, 80% of which required splitting of the bill, more than half had never used an online bill splitting feature, opting for third party payment apps and cash payback.

Business & User frustrations

Group payment for bookings is a complex experience, and Expedia is taking 50% of customers

Primary Frustration
Group payment is not integrated into the booking experience. Third party apps or cash are used to settle balances amongst groups of travelers.

Secondary Frustration
The business noticed that half the target audience is using Expedia to book accommodations, suggesting market share that could be captured.

Competitor Benchmarking

The main competitor to Airbnb surfaced as Expedia which offers travel, car, cruise, and package bookings as well. Expedia required more clicks to view a property or experience, but the experience was personalized. The checkout experience was much like Airbnb and similarly did not offer split payments.

Problem Space

The business interest of capturing more group travelers by integrating a group payment experience was justified.

How Might We…
Facilitate group travel experience
Capture market from competitors
Facilitate conversation about group travel amongst potential customers


After mapping the information architecture of the individual bookings page, we did a mind map of additions and improvements to the existing experience, followed by short form brainstorming in "crazy 8" format to come up with additional ideas.

What can we add
Share payment with email or phone
Event option
Share link
QR Code
Strategic partnership: Payment companies with split options

What can we improve
Add share wishlist between people
Marketing to groups, show group listing
Airbnb group chat
Share multiple listing

User Flows

I mapped out the existing and a proposed user flow for the booking experience, integrating some of the ideas that had been generated during the ideation sessions.

Rapid Prototyping

During rapid prototyping, booking share and chat features were revealed to be redundant with existing app features and the phone's messaging. This suggested that only a split payment option needed to be explored to create a minimum viable product for testing.

Styles & Components

Since I was building a clickable prototype without accessing the Airbnb design system, styles and components for repeated elements were established for the building of this isolated solution, including:

• Color palette
• Type styles
• Grid
• Components

And for developers:
• Spacing and measurement specifications
• User flow
• Layer organization and naming

Usability Testing

Testing the clickable prototype allowed me to gain insights into pain points of the user experience I had created. In the script, I first gathered background information on the users, including if and how they are currently splitting travel expenses, then prompted the user to enter and subsequently edit details for splitting the payment of a group accommodation, and finally navigating how group members would be notified of and make payment due.

Test outcomes

Having tested the prototype, I learned that a simplified bill splitting feature in the checkout experience would benefit Airbnb clients by simplifying the group payment experience.

Three key learnings

1. Further simplify payment process for main user
2. Explore ways to educate the user that bill splitting is an option
3. Notify users that payment will not be processed until all group members' payment details are collected

Next steps

If iterating further, based on the usability testing I would propose allowing the main user to enter their payment details after listing all payees, rather than making the main user respond to a Request for Payment message in their inbox as would be distributed to the other group members.