What ‘fearless’ Airbnb can teach other brands about marketing

By August 10, 2016 No Comments

Airbnb may be a household name but, amazingly, it was only founded eight years ago. Blis president Harry Dewhirst sat down with the brand’s director of online marketing and media buying Paul Jeszensky and Starcom global brand president Lisa Donohue to discuss the rise and rise of the mobile travel app.

Jeszensky stressed how his job, as a marketer, is about empowering the Airbnb community. “There are so many great stories that come out of our platform,”he said.

Donohue discussed how Starcom had been part of Airbnb’s creative review and selection process from the start, with the agency having the same personalisation as Airbnb – from planting themselves in the Airbnb office 24/7, giving a full understanding of the business’ purpose and vision. She continued that agility and expertise had been key to the experience.

“This is an on demand piece of business, it’s infectious,” Donohue added. “When you see how this team is so fearless then you take this back to some of your legacy clients.”

Jeszensky discussed how, despite being a technology company, tech simply facilitates what Airbnb does. “It’s really about people,” he said. “We want to really celebrate our community and bring that out to the world so we’re doing everything we can to curate it.”

Some 86% of people using the app want to “look like a local” according to Jeszensky, which requires global consistency whilst maintaining local relevance from local teams around the world.

Another big challenge for the company was the threat of “stranger danger”, which it targeted via a “never a stranger” campaign.

“When we think about our marketing, we think about it as part of product,” said Jeszensky, discussing a new function called Guidebook where host recommendations are aggregated, in the opposite way to TripAdvisor.

Donohue felt that it was important to focus on the different stages of the consumer journey and that data enables companies to identify different journeys to serve different messages. “We’re really hoping that more content and advertising agencies will understand the power of that,” she added.

Jeszensky said that when thinking about media planning, brand awareness was key with new and emerging tech allowing the company to tell a deeper story resulting in higher engagement.

Looking to the future, Airbnb will be looking at how to further empower the human power company, then look at experiences and how it can make the journey exciting, letting imagination go wild. Jeszensky said that there will be a new big iteration later in the year.

One of the Airbnb founders apparently sent an internal email titled ‘Find your opposite’ – Jeszensky concluded that everyone should find someone to partner who has the same values as them but thinks in the opposite way. “Don’t find people like you, or you’ll think the same,” he added.

Reporter: Anna Dobbie