In a world with ever diminishing resources and luxuries previous generations took for granted, the sharing economy has really boomed. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford the upkeep on your own car or can’t pay for flights and hotels on your holiday because the sharing economy lets you access luxuries on a pay as you go basis.
AirBnB is the world leader in travel accommodation yet not one of the half million listings across 190 countries are for properties they own. You could be forgiven for thinking their greatest achievement is meeting the needs of homeowners looking to make some cash out of their space or providing affordable, unique accommodation to savvy holiday-makers.
The true genius of AirBnB is not their business model but how they market it.
AirBnB’s meteoric rise can largely be put down to their unconventional yet totally inspirational and innovative marketing strategies. Sure, their business model is sound; they meet many needs from providing budget-friendly shelter to offering unique accommodation to adventurous travellers. However, what has elevated them way above their rivals is the ingenuity and flair displayed in their marketing.
AirBnB have taken the art of marketing and gone beyond expertise into almost savant territory. Their ability to see an opportunity and turn it to their advantage is to be revered and studied.
The cornerstone of AirBnB’s marketing success is their courage in taking risks. Some businesses let opportunities pass them by for fear of getting a bad reception, others because they don’t want to be seen jumping on a bandwagon.
AirBnB are not obsessed with being trendsetters and focus more on what they can add to a bandwagon event. For example, the time an American tourist got locked in a London bookshop went viral. AirBnB could have just got involved in the social media banter and hoped their quips gained them a little bit of attention. Instead they thought big and partnered with Waterstones bookshop to offer fans of both brands the opportunity to have a bookshop sleepover.
They took a risk and it paid off with both brands enjoying a lot of positive press from what initially looked like a PR nightmare for the bookshop.
Get some partners
AirBnB have proven that partnering can provide some serious exposure and generate a lot of buzz. Successful AirBnB partnerships include KLM airline, Waterstones bookshop and even the French government.
Each time AirBnB partnered with another brand they thought of what would appeal to lovers of each brand. The brand crossover offered something unique. For example, the KLM crossover saw customers offered the chance to spend a night in a luxury ‘Airplane Apartment’.
Work with influencers
In 2015 AirBnB hosted a ‘floating house’ publicity stunt on the Thames River in London with a variety of related events including a #FloatingHouseParty where attendees were encouraged to live stream, take pictures and splash the evening all over social media. The resultant coverage was monumental with 340 press pieces just in the UK which translated into over 70,000 page hits, 10,000 new users, and more than 200 million social impressions!
Any event AirBnB hosts they invite as many social influencers as possible. By inviting journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters and Instagram stars to their events they get a steady stream of coverage. Social media users will generate real-time buzz with traditional journalists and YouTube stars following up over the proceeding few days to keep the buzz going.
Use quality imagery
Airbnb place a lot of importance on the quality of the imagery across their site. For them it’s not just about consistency across their media, it’s about the story it tells. It is said that a picture tells a thousand words which is why AirBnB offer all their hosts free professional photography.
AirBnB seeks to inspire travellers with beautiful pictures. Each picture is a promise of a new adventure or a certain quality of life. It’s a powerful marketing tool because people can’t help but brag. They want to show people where they are staying and revel in their audience marvelling in disbelief at the location, the price, the luxuriousness of the accommodation or all three. It also helps that better quality content gets more engagement.
The focus of AirBnB’s marketing is selling their service as a lifestyle choice. People choose to stay in an AirBnB property rather than a hotel because AirBnB can offer them something the average mid-priced hotel cannot: local knowledge. Hosts often put together welcome packs for their guests with knowledge only a local would have. It all adds to the authenticity of the experience. It allows guests to regale friends and family with tales of discoveries they would never have made by staying in a conventional hotel.
AirBnB have turned the necessity of accommodation into a lifestyle choice. “AirBnb? Oh you simply have to try it.” That’s why they are marketing gurus and you should be paying attention to what they’re doing.
** Attitude isn’t everything. But it sure helps. Maria Bellissimo-Magrin wouldn’t have become the CEO of full-service creative marketing agency Belgrin without it. She is not one to showcase her endless successes, but let’s her client’s results speak for themselves. Maria is able to find the perfect balance between creative aesthetics and marketing which have had tremendous results time and time again. Maria relishes every opportunity and aspect of her full-service creative marketing role, but what makes her most successful is that she goes over and above her clients expectations. It is with proven track record that Maria’s client base is growing and her longer serving clients are reaping the rewards.
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