Airbnb’s marketing approach brings success


Airbnb attributes its most successful year ever, in 2021, at least in part to its marketing approach and to its innovations, and it intends more of the same in the coming year. 


Airbnb pulled back all marketing at the start of the pandemic in 2020, but found that traffic came back to 95% of 2019 levels without any marketing spend. Accordingly, the decision was taken to substantially reduce performance marketing spend and focus more efforts on PR and brand marketing. Spending in 2021 went into two major campaigns, one aimed at educating visitors, one at recruiting new hosts.

Results vindicate the marketing shift 

“Q4 was another record quarter, and 2021 was the best year in Airbnb’s history,” CEO Brian Chesky announced in an earnings call. “[First,] we’ve seen an increase in traffic to our platform in countries [where]we ran the campaign, and this was significantly ahead of non-campaign countries where we didn’t run the campaign. Second, we’ve been recruiting more hosts and setting them up for success.”

Why it matters

Chesky sees a huge shift taking place in the travel market as a result of the pandemic. People are taking advantage of the flexibility offered by not having to be in an office every day and are opting to spend extended periods in new locations. In fact, the only stay category that hasn’t grown is one-night stays, which he attributes to falling business travel stay and which he doesn’t think will ever return to what it was.

Key quote

“What we’re seeing is great success in the brand marketing that we did last year, and we’re going to be expanding it to more countries” – Dave Stephenson, Chief Financial Officer, Airbnb.

This article first appeared in

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