Airbnb? You mean that brand that got loads of stick for its new logo looking like genitalia?
Yes that’s them. X & Y chromosomes aside, there is much more to the brand than just the logo.
Okay – so give me a bit of background, set the scene for me.
Well since its launch in 2008, Airbnb has gone from three people working in a loft selling a night’s kip on an inflatable mattress, to a $10 billion travel business, employing more than 1,000 people worldwide.
That’s a mighty fast rise to global prominence! But how?
Good question. In short the brand’s product offering at the time was, and to an extent still remains unique – its an e-commerce, community marketplace and travel guide content provider.
Ahhhh I see – so like if Thomas Cook merged with Rough Guides?
Sort of – however it is the community atmosphere; the sharing of stories, homeowner transparency, and honest reviewing method that has built up the brand’s offline and online trust-factor.
Nice. So tell me more about why this community is important.
The Airbnb community atmosphere has been a major focus since the brand’s humble beginnings– Airbnb has built this audience by demonstrating an understanding of its consumer, providing particular services, site functionality and content that resonates with them. As the brand’s following continues to grow, the focus on understanding and profiling its consumer remains at the core of Airbnb’s brand strategy, and for good reason – the more detail you can get on your consumer, the more you can tailor your strategy and meet their requirements. This relevant, valuable customer servicing ultimately leads to brand loyalty and advocacy, which is vital in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Show me some examples of where Airbnb has built its audience from a content perspective.
Well the brand has lots so I’ll pick the ones I feel are most relevant (also known as my favourites). First up is the ‘Neighbourhoods’ feature – an in-depth, authentic insight into a city or area. The feature allows consumers to immerse themselves into a potential holiday destination through nice visuals and personable copy – a process that helps the consumer make a decision – decisions that more often than not leads to bookings and sales.
It’s this giving nature and the creation of free but valuable content (that consumers would otherwise have to pay for) that has helped Airbnb to gain trust, likability and authority in the travel market. There’s also some quirkier more playful bits of tone in there too – the London neighbourhoods section says locals describe it thus “the weather, high rents, rising tube fares, queues, slow walkers, and the NHS”.
Seems fairly accurate. So what else has Airbnb been up to?
The brand has a video channel called airbnb TV, hosted on YouTube. With more than a billion visitors to the video hosting site each month – 10 times more than Facebook – Airbnb has rolled out its unique product offering through a different format to that of traditional words and pictures – it informs and educates using various content themes to attract and keep its users coming back for more:
- Stories: user generated tales from both travellers and homeowners
- Living local: Airbnb reps finding the best accommodation round the world
- Who we are: insight and stories from the faces behind the brand
- Airbnb views: inspiring Airbnb locations from around the world
The brand also uses its video channel to highlight the service’s safety and security precautions, addressing how Airbnb works with their community of hosts to ensure visitors and tenants alike are protected from fraud and damages – this ironing out of any concerns and educating the consumer, provides further reasoning to join the Airbnb community.
I want to go on holiday RIGHT NOW.
Slow down Speed Racer – firstly check out some of the customer reviews and testimonials to see where you’d like go – there are many, with a comment on almost all locations and properties.
Airbnb’s choice to integrate user-generated content into its strategy is a wise one. The brand can showcase the effectiveness of its product in an engaging and enlightening way. Testimonials are honest, pure – in an increasingly spammy world, it is this honesty that helps build brand trust.
Right, I’m ready to join the community – what ways are there to do so?
Well you could simply contribute by writing a review, or you could create your own Bélo.
Nope, for Airbnb’ers at least, the Bélo is “the universal symbol of belonging”. Another way of putting it is that it’s a uniquely personalised symbol, based on the brand’s logo, which becomes part of each user’s profile. Creating a profile allows consumers to join in with all the storytelling going on – writing blogs, reviewing locations, saving wish lists – it goes on. Its been launched a week now and there has been nearly 20,000 Bélo’s created.
So tell me once more, why is Airbnb this weeks Content Brand of the Week?
Airbnb has leveraged its unique product offering to establish a community – a community that is monitored in a continually evolving process of consumer profiling. It is this drive to understand the travel audience that has led to its distinctive offering in the first place. The brand has used this info to provide relevant and valuable content that keeps its consumer loyally coming back for more. This varied content offering combined with tools that empower its audience is a potent mix – the Airbnb community (and brand) continues to grow at an impressive rate.
The brand has demonstrated that by investing the time in understanding and profiling who you’re targeting, you can create content and tools that resonate, building a loyal, trusting and passionate community of contributors and brand advocates.