It’s safe to say that Airbnb revolutionised the way consumers book accommodation, and shook up the industry very quickly. This month, we’re shining our spotlight on Airbnb and looking at how this innovative company got started, and what steps it has taken to position itself at the forefront of the travel and hospitality industry.
How Airbnb Got Started
Airbnb is the worldwide ‘room letting’ website that launched back in 2008 in San Francisco. The site got started with rather humble beginnings. Two friends, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, were struggling to pay the monthly rent on their modest two bed apartment. So the pair decided to rent out their loft space, kitted out with three air beds. They then launched a simple website showing photographs, a map and a bit of information about the ‘accommodation’. Very soon after the duo had their three new lodgers, paying $80 each a week. With the relative ease and simplicity of their unique idea, Brian and Joe realised they were sitting on something that was potentially huge. How right they would prove to be.
10 years later, Airbnb as we know it currently has a market value of $30bn. The service is used daily in 191 countries across the globe and boasts over 100 million active users. Airbnb has truly shaken up the travel industry and revolutionised the way we book our travel and accommodation.
So how did Airbnb go from a small idea between 2 college friends to cover their rent, to becoming one of the main players in the worldwide travel industry in such a short space of time?
One Digital Step Ahead
With its roots coming from the tech-paradise, silicon valley, it was to be expected Airbnb’s core ethics were staying digitally ahead of the field. In the summer of 2011 Airbnb integrated its brand new ‘social connections’ to its site. Enabling users to integrate their own social
media profiles for extra verification and security, but also to share their booking with friends on their own social feed. Of course this proved to be a real success with users. It made the whole booking process smooth, easy and straightforward, something which at the time was typically laborious and time consuming. Also through users sharing their bookings online with friends it helped catapult brand awareness of Airbnb.
Back in November 2016, Airbnb made its biggest gamble to date launching ‘Trips’ to its Android and iOS apps which were launched back in 2012. Trips is the idea of selling the guest a whole ‘experience’, rather than just any old apartment or bedroom. Guests can now book through the Airbnb app, to see the sides of tourist destinations they would never usually get to see or experience. This is a smart initiative shown by Airbnb by forming partnerships with local tour operators to offer guests a unique experience and to really stand head and shoulders above competitors.
In a bid to become the number one travel and hospitality brand on the market, Airbnb is said to be launching ‘Flights’ to its Smartphone Apps in the near future. This is the final step in offering the guest the whole package holiday. Traditional tour operators should most certainly be worried about this bold move that could potentially see Airbnb move from the simple room-letting site, to the complete package holiday provider for the worldwide Airbnb community.
The Rebranding Strategy
With Airbnb’s continued worldwide success the company thought it was time for a rebrand to really thrust it to the top of the travel and hospitality industry, and to also create a household symbol to truly reflect its values of belonging, people and places.
With digital technology at the forefront of the company’s ideology, it launched a digital campaign that really made the industry sit up and take notice. The rebrand saw Airbnb trending worldwide on Twitter for a period of time and the ‘buzz’ was pretty hard to miss.
The company launched a microsite in an effort to increase activity and to encourage guests and hosts alike to really take ownership of the new logo and slogan. The site gave background and an insight on the whole rebrand and how it encapsulated the values and ethics of Airbnb. There was also a nice tool which enabled visitors to design their own logo and share on their social media profiles, further helping build brand awareness worldwide and shine a bigger light on the company’s rebrand.
See the story of the rebrand here:
Airbnb has come a long a way from the three air beds in a San Francisco loft space. It has made huge strides in becoming one of the world’s most recognisable travel brands. Along with its unique service that allows normal, everyday people around the world to let a spare bedroom or apartment to a tourist, the company’s approach to digital marketing has most certainly contributed to its success. That idea of staying one step ahead of the competition, in the ever changing digital landscape has once again proven to be pivotal in a brand’s success story.