Marketing Briefing: “It’s a Better Way to Travel”: Q&A with Airbnb’s Global Head of Marketing on the Company’s New Capabilities, Housing

Airbnb last week unveiled “probably the biggest change we’ve made,” according to Airbnb’s global marketing manager, Hiroki Asai, with a redesign that lets people search for categories (e.g., surfing or design, etc.) as well as to divide their stays. on several houses. The company seeks to reflect the changing nature of travel, as remote working has allowed some to work and live anywhere.

Digiday sat down with Asai to discuss the changes – the company now also offers updated travel protections called “AirCover” – as well as Airbnb’s marketing approach.

This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How do you plan to market these new features?

We have a huge campaign that we start in June. It’s really about teaching people the categories. The way we approach marketing and the way we approach brand [purpose] is a bit different from most companies. We believe that the brand is not just a campaign or the dissemination of values ​​and promises. It’s really two things: it’s how you behave and what you do for people. In terms of how you carry yourself, being brand-driven is doing things like what we did for the Ukrainian crisis or Afghanistan and use our platform to help people. It comes from a place of deep and deep belief for us. What we make is our product.

With categories, it’s a totally different way to search. When you look at travel search today, it’s an industry paradigm to rely on search. The problem with this is that a search box only knows to fetch what you type into it. When it comes to travel, he will only get what you tell him to get. You only know a thin slice of the world. It’s like going to an ice cream parlor and not experiencing any of the flavors. Categories are about organizing our offering into categories that make things unique or things that interest you. We have a category for design – there are tons of Frank Lloyd Wright houses listed. You would never know to search for these things, but they are exposed through categories. We have categories on surfing, camping, ski slopes. It’s a much better way to search. Marketing is about making people understand that this is a better way to travel.

Is the internal team still responsible for the creation? What about the media?

Everything is done in-house. All of our creativity, all of our marketing, all of our design, it’s all done in-house. In total, it is a few hundred people. We work with an agency to buy the media. Strategy and execution are carried out entirely in-house. Creation is done in-house, production is done in-house.

We’ve heard that some companies have recently taken a more hybrid approach to in-house media, working on strategy in-house and agency to execute. That seems to be the approach you’re taking.

It makes a lot more sense. With something as specialized as media buying when it comes to scale, [and] connections, it doesn’t make sense to build that. The strategic part, absolutely. Planning, absolutely. For us, on the creative side, everything is internal. This is something that excites me deeply. The best way to create great work is to create it in-house. [Over the last two years,] we have built an advertising team in addition to the creative team that we have. We’ve also integrated it much more tightly. Our advertising team works closely with our marketing team who works closely with our design team, our product team, it’s all much more integrated. By embedding deeply, it allows you to create some of the things we’ve started.

Split stays, [the new feature that allows people to split stays across multiple properties], is a perfect example. This is a feature we created when we discovered that people book long term on our service. It automatically associates stays together for the duration you are looking for. It’s super unique and interesting. Most people probably wouldn’t have thought of trying to connect stays, but it saves hundreds of hours. It’s a really useful feature.

Remote work has changed commuting for some. How does this impact Airbnb’s marketing and advertising messages?

When we think about what our brand does and what we think [now] it centers around the idea that the world has changed ridiculously fast. The way we live and work is changing. The place where we live and work is totally changing. As a result, the way we travel is totally changing. Our goal is to constantly innovate our product to keep up with these changes and provide people with a unique and interesting way to enjoy travel in this changing way, however they want to. Marketing will be a natural outcrop of this.

By the numbers

Over the past year, brands have raced with stakes and flags to claim a place in the burgeoning virtual world of the Metaverse. The number of people aware of the existence of the metaverse has doubled. However, how many people understand it is another story. A new report from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence breaks down how much the world thinks about the Metaverse. Find key details of the report below:

  • Alone 15% of survey respondents said they know what Metaverse is and can explain it to someone else.
  • 76% % of survey respondents believe the Metaverse will allow for authentic self-expression.
  • Among those interviewed, 90% thinks the metaverse will impact sports and entertainment. — Kimeko McCoy

quote of the week

“I think the pendulum has swung too far towards a total in-house solution and customers recognize that it’s almost unmanageable.”

— Nancy Hill, Founder of The Media Sherpa and Former President of 4A, explains why more and more brands may be looking hybrid rather than in-house when it comes to media planning and buying.

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