Airbnb Is Investing in a Surprising New Strategy to Reach More Travelers

Author: David McMillin       

Airbnb may be responsible for rewriting the rules of travel with alternatives to hotel rooms, but the peer-to-peer rental company is turning toward a traditional marketing strategy with the launch of its new print magazine, Airbnbmag. On May 23, the Airbnb brand will start appearing in plenty of new places, including Barnes & Noble stores, supermarkets, mass retail stores, airports, and train terminals. The company is partnering with Hearst, the publisher behind Food Network Magazine, HGTV Magazine, and a range other well-known titles. According to The Wall Street Journal, the magazine will have a guaranteed circulation of 350,000. In addition to selling the publication for $3.99 at newsstands around the United States, Airbnb will offer complimentary copies to hosts and some of its most loyal guests.

The move may seem surprising to some. After all, Airbnb is a Silicon Valley darling that can attribute much of its success to the digital age. If the Airbnb community is spending most of its time searching for homes via their smartphones, how can a print magazine fit into the company’s communication efforts? It turns out that all those digital searches form the key ingredient for the publication: data.

“We know how many people are searching to stay in Havana, Detroit, or Tokyo, and we know how many people want to go based on search dates for future trips,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told The Wall Street Journal. “No one has billions of demand search data points for nearly every country in the world. That gives us a leg up.”

Don’t expect to see coverage confined to well-known hotspots. While there will be plenty of material on some of the most talked-about destinations — the lead feature of the first issue is about Havana — the magazine will also reflect Airbnb’s aim to satisfy adventurers searching for off-the-beaten-path gems. Look no further than the first issue’s story on Porvoo, Finland.

SEE ALSO: How Airbnb Open Is Changing the Attendee Experience

Airbnb Is Showing Up Everywhere 

Airbnb isn’t just connecting with wanderers and explorers. With its Business Travel Ready portal, professionals are sleeping in strangers’ homes, too. In fact, the company said that the number of business trips on Airbnb tripled in 2016; employees from more than 250,000 companies have signed up to use Airbnb for their business trips. And while the company has said time and again that its guests are different from hotel guests, it’s beginning to look like Airbnb wants to take over the entire travel world. Consider this invitation from the company’s website to those with expense accounts: “Traveling for work doesn’t have to be lonely or isolating anymore. We’re bringing the comfort and adventure back into business travel. Don’t put your life on hold when you’re on the road.”

Some conference attendees are already embracing that sense of adventure. At the end of 2016, Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies, Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, told Convene that “Airbnb as a lodging alternative is gaining recognition and legitimacy, more for leisure and association event attendees, but increasingly for [other] business travelers and meeting/convention attendees.”

Read more about Airbnb’s work with the meetings industry here.

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