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TRAVEL MARKETING

Revamped marketing strategy is giving Airbnb a big profit boost

By our News Team | 2021

Accommodation giant says more focus on brand building and PR, as well as a new ad campaign, has helped drive a post-lockdown comeback.

After struggling significantly during the lockdowns and travel bans the characterised the early stages of Covid-19, global accommodation giant Airbnb is making a comeback which it attributes, in part, to a revamp in its marketing strategy. This includes an increased focus on brand building and public relations.

The company’s recently announced third-quarter financial results showed soaring revenue and profits as people around the world began travelling again when restrictions and lockdowns eased. 

While pent-up consumer demand for travel products is clearly one of the drivers for Airbnb’s significant uptick in performance, CEO Brian Chesky has pointed out that a change to the way in which it does its marketing has also made a significant difference.

Travel marketing

Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

“The pandemic has led to a revolution in how we live, work and travel and we’re constantly innovating to meet this new way of travelling and living,” he commented.

Focus on high marketing efficiency

“We remain focused on making progress towards achieving our long-term profitability goals through reduced variable costs, high marketing efficiency and tightly managed fixed expenses.”

The company highlighted the importance of the launch of its first large-scale marketing campaign in five years – called ‘Made by Hosts’ – at the beginning of this year. It said business in the countries where the campaign ran was “significantly ahead of non-campaign countries”.

Industry publication Marketing Week reported: “The brand campaign runs in countries including the UK, US, France and Canada across TV and digital, and came as the business declared it would be making a permanent cut to its overall marketing investment, having noted that slashing spend during Covid had little impact on traffic.” 

In May this year, Chesky noted that 90% of traffic to Airbnb’s digital platform was either unpaid or direct and that traffic levels had remained similar to 2019, despite the company cutting overall marketing spend by half.

Airbnb has become a noun and a verb

“We take a very different approach to sales and marketing than our competition,” he explained. “PR, in addition to word of mouth, is the thing that built our brand over the last 10 years. And because of that, Airbnb really is a noun and a verb used all over the world.”

Chesky said Airbnb now considered the role of marketing as “education”, not “to buy customers”.

Among the changes in post-lockdown consumer habits that the company wants to capitalise on is the potential for longer stays at its properties. It sees opportunity in long stays of 28 days or more, now that so many high-spending professional people are able to work remotely.  

Business travel, though, is unlikely to ever reach previous levels again, Chesky warned in May during a round of media interviews.

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