Airbnb’s IPO means so much more than just another unicorn going public. From a marketing perspective, Airbnb is a case study in how to leverage brand and SEO to fuel organic growth.
For those of us who work directly or indirectly in the tourism and hospitality industry, it’s like a lighthouse’s beacon in a raging storm. For months, the industry has endured the single largest downturn in history, wiping out too many companies and livelihoods along the way.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date
But now, with a vaccine just over the horizon, the most influential travel company of the last decade is making its debut on the market. This is a signal to public investors, and the traveling public in general, that travel is very much still alive. The recovery is beginning to take shape.
From a marketing perspective, Airbnb is a case study in how to leverage brand and SEO to fuel organic growth. Two things we’re super passionate about here at Wildebeest.
Scattered through Airbnb’s S-1 filing were snippets of insights into how Airbnb became synonymous with consumers’ understanding of short-term rental supply. Plus, it pulled back the curtain on how the company largely avoided the performance marketing ‘race to the bottom’ fate like some of their fellow OTA competitors.
In the beginning
From the start, Brian, Nate, and Joe didn’t set out to create just another online travel company. The backstory is well-known by now. It was 2007 and Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia didn’t have enough money for rent in pricey San Francisco. There was a conference in town and all the hotel rooms were sold out.
So the duo did what any enterprising young 20 somethings would do – they bought a bunch of air mattresses, put them on the floor of their apartment, and rented them out to conference attendees.
The Airbnb community was born.
The operative word here is ‘community.’
Although it’s hard to remember, the original inventory on the site was majority shared spaces – spare bedrooms in apartments and homes. I have fond memories of the early Airbnb days, meeting some wonderful people who welcomed me into their homes.
Today, things are a bit different. With the rise of professional hosts on the platform, listings for entire apartments have increased 70% since 2017. Those for private rooms have only grown by 13% over the same period.
As a child of the sharing economy era, Airbnb immediately embraced community and traveler/host connections. The founders knew that to entice travelers to adopt their new style of hospitality, they needed a strong brand to appeal on an emotional level.