Airbnb: Where did you come from? Where did you go?

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Airbnb: Where did you come from? Where did you go?
Andrew Darling

Harry_Dewhirst_Blis_Airbnb_Starcom_Mediavest_Group_Festival_of_media

The Blis Team were enjoying La Dolce Vita in the Eternal City last week at Festival of Media Global. Blis President, Harry Dewhirst, hosted a ‘Fireside Chat’ with Airbnb and Starcom on the main conference stage. As a Founder Partner of the event, the team were also busy hosting the ‘happy hour’ drinks reception and running one if its famous Golden Shaker Cocktail-making competitions for FoM delegates.

Airbnb may be a household name today, but the home-sharing platform was only founded eight years ago. Harry Dewhirst sat down for a chat with the company’s Director of Online Marketing and Media Buying Paul Jeszensky, and Starcom Global Brand President Lisa Donohue, to discuss the rise of the mobile hospitality brand and how location is helping Airbnb meet the challenge of securing more hosts in key cities.

Global brand. Local relevance

“Some 86 percent of people using the Airbnb app want to feel like a local,” according to Jeszensky. “This requires global consistency whilst maintaining local relevance from around the world.”

Airbnb has some 200,000 hosts in 33 countries on its platform. Demand for homes always outstrips supply so one of the key objectives from its marketing and advertising campaigns is to find home owners in popular cities who can become hosts.

The importance of location

Jeszensky said that 86 percent of people who use Airbnb do it because they like the choice and variance on offer. “It’s not commoditised hotel-based travel. It’s all about locations so we translate everything globally to make sure it resonates locally too. Sometimes down to the neighbourhood level.”

“Airbnb and Blis are both defined by locations – people and host homes – data and smartphones. Given that Airbnb’s business is all about locations,” asked Dewhirst. “How has mobile helped Airbnb build its brand?”

“Balancing supply and demand. We have less hosts than guests so targeting the right audience is crucial for driving that host supply. Blis helped us meet this challenge last December by running location-enabled video ad campaigns in Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam which targeted an audience made up from travellers, digital nomads, designers, airport dwellers etc.” Jeszensky responded.

“The campaign synched up with an OOH campaign to amplify the messaging and it performed very successfully,” he added.

Starcom’s Lisa Donahue said more and more marketers are leveraging the power of data like location for brands.

“Mobility in general is so important for all brands now,” she said. “Location helps us understand audience patterns and segmenting so we can serve dynamic and personalised messaging – sequential, storytelling etc. Location helps us understand the sorts of things people like based the places they go.”

“Helping to know the consumer journey and where they are in the journey by using location data is helping brands like Airbnb and marketers like us overcome barriers to consumers engaging with ads.”

“It’s a wonderful canvas for us to use 1-2-1 at scale,” she added.

Belong anywhere

“Technology facilitates what Airbnb does, but it’s all about people – the hosts, the community. In the same way Nike is about athletes, Airbnb is about home owners,” said Jeszensky.

He said that bookings on Airbnb are shifting to mobile from desktop generally.

“In China it’s almost all on mobile. China has become the leading indicator to what people are doing with mobile. We are seeing trends like this all around the world.”

The session was very well received by the Festival audience and our thanks go to both Paul and Lisa for taking part and sharing their expert knowledge. Blis look forward to providing more location insights at industry events all over the world.

Our next speaking engagements include:

4th July 2016 – ATS Singapore

21st July 2016 IAB UK Mobile Location Seminar

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Andrew Darling

is Communications Director at Blis. He is responsible for Blis’ global communications and PR activities, as well as marketing operations in APAC. Andrew is a seasoned tech marketing and communications expert, Chair of the IAB SG Mobile Committee and former Telecoms, Media and Technology journalist.

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