A CMO Show Blog Post
Campaign watch: Airbnb is on a mission to change the way you travel
A CMO Show Blog Post
Campaign watch: Airbnb is on...

The rise of the sharing economy has created markets out of things never previously considered sellable. At the forefront of that, Airbnb is reshaping and redefining the entire travel sector. 

Back in 2013, Forbes estimated the revenue flowing through the sharing economy directly into people’s wallets would surpass US$3.5 billion. By 2025, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates sharing-economy businesses will take in nearly 100 times that amount – US$335 billion.

Leading the way is Airbnb, an industry disruptor valued at US$25 billion in mid-2015.

And that’s not all the innovative, young company is at the forefront of. They’re also killing it at content, rolling out a new major brand platform that will form the basis of the company’s marketing communications and product services for the years to come.

According to data from the peer-to-peer based service, 86 per cent of its users engage with the travel site because they want to live more like a local – and it’s precisely that insight of living rather than visiting that inspired the brand’s latest and largest content campaign, “Don’t go there. Live there.”

As Airbnb’s largest content campaign to date urges travellers not go to Paris, L.A., New York, Tokyo (or anywhere else for that matter), but to live there – even if it’s just for a night.

Take a look for yourself… 

Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall said he set out with the intention to further disrupt the modern tourism industry.

“The industry kind of shepherds travellers through this exhausting conveyor belt of rather crowded experiences. Increasingly there is a growing ground flow of traveler demand for experiences that are not like the typical tourist experiences that actually more reflect what it’s like to live in local places,” Mildenhall said in a recent interview.

The ‘Live There’ concept first emerged in February 2016 with Airbnb’s content partnership with Disney, as scenes from the upcoming release of Jungle Book promoted Airbnb’s tree house properties under the banner “Love this? Live there”.

The company has also rolled out an app update designed to help travellers immerse themselves in local cultures. This includes a series of Airbnb “local lists”, the brand’s spin on tourist guidebooks which are created by locals, and aim to allow future visitors to get a taste of what day-to-day life is like for those who actually live in the city.

It’s all part of Mildenhall’s burgeoning plan to promote more authentic travel experiences. Trip Advisor’s rankings are driven by what tourists think of their experiences, not what locals think, and this can often lead to a disconnect for travellers, Mildenhall recently shared.

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With a campaign as integrated as this, it’s not difficult to see how Airbnb is ‘living’ content marketing – a challenge that many B2C and B2B companies continue to grapple with.

A strong knowledge of, and intimate relationship with, their customers gives Airbnb an edge that will continue to grow successful content campaigns well into the future.

The lesson here is for traditional, pre-internet companies who find themselves facing movers and shakers like Airbnb. According to the Digital & Social Media Leadership Forum, “Non-web-native companies struggle to achieve this blending of content marketing and proposition because they have never learned to see them as one thing, they were never forced to pre-internet.”

The challenge for us, as content marketers, is clearly set: “We need to help them see that core services cannot live separately from the way you talk about and sell them.”

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