Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 25 2016

Will Airbnb’s New Ad Campaign Resonate With Your Attendees?

David McMillin


As big hotel brands like Marriott and Hilton invest in advertisements to drive guests to book directly on their websites, one of their alternative competitors is launching its own major commercial effort. Last week, peer-to-peer rental company Airbnb announced its largest brand campaign yet: “Live There.” The initiative will feature TV, digital print and out-of-home advertising all focused on the benefits of not being a tourist. The entire campaign feels like a direct shot to many traditional hotel experiences.

“The new campaign throws out the notion that people want template experiences that dull the senses and prevent people from seeing the world with a fresh perspective,” a release from the company states. “Instead, Airbnb will inspire travelers to reimagine what it is to travel, showcasing the authentic and magical experiences made possible through Airbnb and its community of over two million homes.”

Translation: who wants to stay in a hotel room and a neighborhood that feels just like somewhere else? Airbnb isn’t just advertising, though. The company is backing it up with two new tools. First, it’s unveiling an update to its mobile app built on the buzz word of the past few years: personalization. For example, when guests search for accommodation options in New York City, the results won’t all be created equal across Airbnb’s customer base. Instead, the app will display results based on travelers’ preferences.

Second, a new Guidebooks feature will show off local insights from Airbnb hosts to help their guests feel less like tourists. Why? Because after conducting research, Airbnb found that “tourist” is somewhat of a dirty word. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they are not happy to be considered a tourist when visiting a new place. The feature is built to eliminate standing in lines at the “must-see” tourist attractions and “help travelers find local gems not only in every city, but on every city block.”

MORE: Why It’s Time To Start Thinking About Airbnb’s Impact On Your Room Block

Local Hosts Vs. Global Brands

While many voices believe that Airbnb will not pose a serious threat to the traditional travel industry, the company is clearly connecting with travelers who are searching for something missing from many hotels. Some may argue that much of that rests on price — Airbnb properties are often much cheaper than hotels — but the surging popularity of Airbnb must be attributed to more than saving some dollars. After all, travelers can save those dollars via many online travel searches at companies like Priceline and Hotwire.

So, now there’s one key question that should be on meeting planners’ minds: how many of their audience members will be aiming to “live there” when they make plans to travel to a conference host destination? And what does that mean for room block numbers? Click here to check out more coverage on Airbnb’s impact on the convention industry.

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