See how Airbnb uses digital marketing to grow a loyal fan base of travellers, celebrities, and influencers, among others. Its 360 marketing efforts are well worth it to explore.
Airbnb makes travel an immersive experience. It has become a household name for every globetrotter in a short time.
The rental-turned-travel company uses various forms of marketing tactics that boost a lot of revenue. And it continues to win more conversions today. So, let’s find out the success of Airbnb digital marketing strategy.
- Airbnb History
- Airbnb Business Model
- Incorporating the Modern Marketing Mix
- Airbnb Digital Marketing Strategy
- Branding | Logo Design
- Clean Mobile App Design
- Airbnb Mobile Marketing Strategy
- SEO Strategy Airbnb Hosts Use
- Paid Advertising for Airbnb Hosts
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
- Influencer and Celebrity Marketing
- Referral Incentives For Loyal and New Customers
- Answering the Pandemic with Online Experiences
All About Airbnb Digital Marketing Strategy
See how Airbnb utilises a strong digital marketing strategy. But before that, check out how it began and how it is one of the travel market giants in the world. For those looking to execute a good digital marketing strategy for a travel agency, it will help.
Airbnb co-founders are former roommates, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk. It is short for Air Bed and Breakfast. And, it launched in 2008 as an online marketplace for finding accommodations.
The accommodations that the company profits from, are lodgings. These lodgings are not hotels but homestays.
With its headquarter in San Francisco, California, it began as a budget alternative to hotels with the website, Airbedandbreakfast.com. Fast forward to 2022, its net worth is $38 billion (Statista).
It is now present in more than 200 countries. Travellers not only find great budget stays but also luxe rentals today.
Airbnb launched in India around 2016. For the company, India is among the top 3 markets with over 400 million millennials. This age group enjoys travelling.
The company went further in the country by launching the ‘Trips’ option. With it, tourists could immerse themselves in the local culture more. By 2019, it had 54000 accommodation listings covering 110 cities in the country.
Airbnb Business Model
Airbnb has a non-traditional business model. Its stakeholders are guests, hosts, employees, shareholders and communities.
For the company, its partners are Airbnb hosts. From the point of view of economics, the hosts are also the suppliers and the guests/travellers are the customers.
The CEO, Brian Chesky in an interview with The Verge further mentioned that the partners have a ‘customer-like’ relationship with the company.
How does its business model compete?
Airbnb’s motto is ‘Live like a local’. That means it believes in integrating people into the community. Travellers get to feel like ‘good neighbours’ in any region.
Some of its main competitors are Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Agoda, VRBO, etc. What most competitors don’t offer to partners is that Airbnb offers $1 million of damage protection, according to Brian Chesky.
Also, the listings on Airbnb are cheaper. According to the Starting Business website, the homestay prices in the United States and Europe are 6 to 8 percent cheap.
Incorporating the Modern Marketing Mix
The old marketing mix uses the 4Ps – product, price, promotion, and place. Airbnb’s marketing strategy adds people and positioning, along with the 4Ps.
That’s how it has a strong brand presence.
Its target audience is vast. It covers both Gen Z and millennial populations. They are between the ages of 25 – 44 (Starting Business). It spends a lot on marketing research to address the changing demographic.
It invested $367 million for marketing and sales in the first quarter of 2019 (Business Insider).
Successful Airbnb Digital Marketing Efforts
Let’s have an in-depth look into the success of Airbnb’s digital marketing planning. It is like a two-sided coin. Both Airbnb hosts and the company utilise a variety of tactics in digital marketing.
Branding | Logo Design
The logo stands for ‘Belong Anywhere’. This indicates how people want to belong, connect, share, feel accepted and safe.
Airbnb calls its logo the Bélo icon. It outlines people, places and love. German designer Kurt Wiedeman’s theory on this is that a great logo “is ‘something you can draw in the sand with your toe’”.
The Bélo icon is like a paper clip with the letter A that symbolises the brand name. Then it also characterises an upside-down heart, a happy or satisfied individual with hands above their head and a location marker on digital maps.
Clean Mobile App Design
Its app won Google’s Material Design Award in 2016.
The interface of the app is according to Google Guidelines. The customer feels at home with the variation in type sizes that is based on content hierarchy. The sans-serif typeface Circular for a warm and friendly character.
The app design is also very unique. It uses the concept of motion. That is the photos enlarge upon taps like a travel brochure.
The app offers a highly uncluttered experience when you navigate through the listings. This aspect, as you know, helps in customer retention rate.
Airbnb Mobile Marketing Strategy
Mobile marketing is one of the strongest suits of Airbnb. It does more than convince users to install the mobile app. It uses a unique linking infrastructure that pushes users to specific (location and user-based) in-app content instead of the homepage on the mobile app.
This was done with the mobile linking solution – Branch. With Branch, the brand could employ deep links in the digital ads.
Let’s see how these deep links work.
Every paid ad of Airbnb has Branch links. These links direct the users straight to the content within the app. This is for those who already have the app installed.
For new users, these links direct them to the website. Now that encourages them to download the app. Once they download it, they can see the specific listings on the digital ad link they clicked.
These deep links are also the CTAs in Airbnb’s digital channels. Be it, for email marketing or social media.
The result: seamless transition into the mobile app and more conversion.
SEO Strategy Airbnb Hosts Use
Airbnb utilises SEO for all search engines including Google and Bing. But it also uses its own SEO for its listings. It controls the content on its own site.
It analyses more than 100 algorithms. And there are specific search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines that Airbnb hosts have to follow.
Metrics such as response rate is important for SEO listings.
For any Airbnb host, keeping a high response rate is important. That is they have to respond to queries of travellers and prospects within 24 hours or even faster. This increases the credibility of the site and mobile app.
There is also a feature for its partners called ‘Instant Book’. When the partners use this free tool, guests can filter the search listings.
Another metric the website uses is review quality.
Also, the company does not upload photos of accommodations on its app, the hosts provide them. As part of Airbnb SEO tip, they have to put around 20 photos with high resolution.
So the Airbnb hosts put accurate information with safety and convenience details. They have to specify landmarks, amenities, correct language, etc.
Paid Advertising for Airbnb Hosts
Airbnb hosts utilise paid advertising tactics to stay on top the Airbnb listings. Also, Airbnb itself uses targeted paid ads. With paid advertising, the users know that it is a legitimate business.
Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing helps achieve business goals for the long term.
The website blogs of every location make the Airbnb site information-rich. Travellers can look for destinations they are going to visit next and make a decision. These blogs outline people, places, cultures, etc.
Just visit the official website or blog.atairbnb.com. You will find so many categories, including Stories From Our Community and Local Lens, among others.
The local city guides cover the best places to eat, party and enjoy unique adventure activities. This helps tourists feel what an experiential vacation may entail.
It makes a difference among many competitors. Airbnb’s content marketing strategy goes beyond to inform about the local life instead of listing the key attractions such as museums, historical monuments and archaeological wonders.
Check out the Local Lens series. It covers the best places from the eyes of popular local people and their suggestions.
Social Media Marketing
You will find a great presence of the brand across the major digital channels. In its social media networks, you are going to come across posts that promote the digital marketing campaign slogan, ‘Don’t Go There – Live There’.
Then they use specific hashtags that instantly remind the target audience about the brand. One example is #belonganywhere.
Influencer and Celebrity Marketing
Let’s talk about Airbnb’s celebrity marketing strategy in India. Since the majority of the millennials here follow Bollywood, the company could tap into that framework in marketing.
You may have seen a popular ad of Shahrukh Khan’s Airbnb stay at a posh mansion in Beverly Hills. For Indian holidaymakers, this kind of marketing influences their travelling decisions.
But this celebrity marketing tactic is not useful only in this country. The brand has done the same in the United States with Hollywood celebrities – Britney Spears and Mariah Carey.
Apart from celebrities, the brand also relies on influencer marketing. This is one of the important marketing efforts that is relatively new but works wonders. Here, Airbnb utilises all the tools, from attractive images, stories and reels that all viewers enjoy.
You know, Instagram is the online hangout hotspot for Gen Z and millennial users. A majority of the Airbnb prospects are there on the social media channel. The company collaborates with local influencers. This kind of digital marketing helps in building trust among potential tourists.
With influencer marketing, it drove online traffic of 91 million visits in January 2020. This is a stat from Staring Business.
Referral Incentives for Loyal Customers
Airbnb rewards customers who refer their friends or anyone they know of places and listings on the app. Once they book an Airbnb through reference, the customers are awarded travel credits. The new customers too, get travel discounts.
Now, such kind of referral programme retains existing customers. As a result, it brings new ones at the same time.
Answering the Pandemic with Online Experiences
You know the pandemic affected the travel and tourism industry to a great extent. Many travel websites had to lay off their employees, and hotels and homestays were out of business. As major losses spread, the market also changed.
What Airbnb did was introduce Online Experiences. It has various categories such as Culture & History, Wellness, Food and Drink, among others.
The product helped hosts from all over the world earn some income. It also allowed people to enjoy a connection with other local cultures, virtually over the Zoom app.
According to the Airbnb website, Online Experiences helped homestay owners earn up to $500,000.
Airbnb’s success is owed to its digital marketing strategy. It focuses on the customer relationship. And, it offers the most meaningful experiences. For hosts and holidaymakers, alike.
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