Airbnb is a web-based marketplace. Where people can list their stay for a short-term rental. The company, founded in 2008 by Brain Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, makes money by charging any rental that takes place on their platform. It is active worldwide and has more than 150 million users, 4 million+ Airbnb listing, has raised $ 3.4 billion as total funding in 2017 and its activity in 191+ countries Airbnb is active. Today, Airbnb has 3100 employees and since the company is founded there has been 200000+ senior host on Airbnb and 120000+ senior women host on Airbnb.
Airbnb was originally called as Airbed and breakfast. Initially, this site used to offer only shared spaces and some private rooms but it wasn’t entire homes. Later on, they focused on providing accommodation rental services. Airbnb didn’t receive expected popularity at the start, however in mid-2010 the company’s growth trajectory began, and the curve rose sharply upward. It continues to follow this path even today. It connects both the parties through digital platforms, both the guests and the accommodation owners.
Airbnb is signified as a peer-to-peer marketplace in the sharing economy. Revenue is generated from both customers and owners for the services. Airbnb charges 9-12% service commission for every booking made by guests, which depends on how long guest stay’s and host pay 3% service commission fees to cover the expense of handling back to Airbnb. Enrolling is free for travelers and host doesn’t require to pay any commission for offering their common space or home lease.
Anyone who h1as access to an internet connection, including non-members of Airbnb, can view all listings and even for those who are fully booked. Airbnb members can only create or book a listing. Here, e-mail address and a phone no. is required to sign up for Airbnb. Host or guest profile consists of a profile photo, first name, the date and year the member joined Airbnb and the information related to whether the member is verified. The website has additional information too but it’s optional. Members can choose to provide a piece of detailed information about themselves, like:
- where they live, what are their interest,
- their profession,
- Language skills etc.
So that it appears more attractive for host or guest. Website of Airbnb is quite easy to understand and straightforward. Traveler search for the place based on the destination, travel date and party size and then website list available spaces, where guest can use filters and refined attributes like price, neighborhood amenities etc., after that guest can select and have greater number of details in it too, which includes description, photos and reviews from the previous guest.
Even guests can send a message to the hosts if he/she is interested and wants to know about the place, in this way it creates transparency between both. If reservation request has been made, then the host can accept or reject the request. This enables the host to act in an entrepreneurial manner, hosts all around the world list their available spaces on Airbnb and earn a profit by renting them. They charge guest usually at cheaper rates compare to hotels.
The total transaction process in Airbnb is directly integrated due to rapid growth and improvement in service quality. Airbnb’s total net worth was estimated to be around $30 billion in 2016.
Airbnb has built an online reputation system that enables and encourages participants to rate and review each completed stay. Guests use star ratings to rate features of their stay, e.g., cleanliness, location, and communication, while both guests and hosts are encouraged to post public reviews of each stay on the platform. Roughly 80 to 90 per cent of Airbnb hosts rent their primary residences, but accommodations offered by hosts with multiple rentals represent a proportionally larger share of Airbnb’s total listings and bookings.
Airbnb Target Customers
Different from other companies, who normally focus their marketing strategy on one market segmentation at a time, AirBnb is dealing with both niche customer segmentation at the same time: the hosts and the guests (AirBnb 2015 Review, 2015).
- The hosts: People who want to monetise their unoccupied space or simply want to meet new people. Senior is considered as the fastest-growing Airbnb host demographic.
- The guests: People who looking for an affordable alternative option to the hotel, which is a more home-like atmosphere and promises a local experience. Mostly they are budget-minded travellers, belong to a tech-savvy generation. Recently, Airbnb has endeavoured to attract a diverse range of customers by targeting more on a young family, LGBT couples (Ice, 2016) and high – end travellers, However, as committed by Airbnb, millennials and Generation Z are still their most important customer segmentation.
Marketing strategies used by Airbnb:
There primary audience were people in need of primary staying places and cheap stays. With the website and an idea they started expanding the option to make it inclusive and to create an experience as a whole.
Airbnb PRODUCT STRATEGY:
Since Airbnb operates in a business to business market, the platform is the service that they offer to the hosts with value proposition of ‘earning money to fund their own passions’. Airbnb has a wide variety of service offerings in its marketing mix.
- For the travellers, they offer the ease of finding the perfect accommodation such as homestays, hostel beds, hotel rooms, etc. or travel experiences such as scuba diving, cooking classes, art classes, etc. by choosing from a variety of listings available on the platform.
- They offer two options to the hosts, i.e., host alone by either listing their property for rental or any experience which they wish to offer to the guests or co-host with others by sharing their responsibilities with them.
- Airbnb also offers to enhance supplementary service of protection plans to the hosts. The hosts can then set the prices for the place or service offered. Since not many hosts have an experience in setting prices, Airbnb also provides an estimate for the same based on the similar listing type, location and guest capacity. Thus, Airbnb acts as a broker by facilitating all communications and transactions between the guest and the host through the portal.
Other than serving as a portal, link or as a broker, it also provides additional services to make the customers visit an all-rounded experience than just a hotel stay, the difference between the other sites and Airbnb is that anyone in the city can be a host with all the required facilities.
- Apart from basic necessities AirBnb has upgraded to AirBnb plus in which the customer can avail to a package on the website to avail free services like transport, complimentary travel guide etc.
- Airbnb Experiences are activities designed and led by inspiring locals. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in each host’s unique world. It’s an opportunity for anyone to share their hobbies, skills, or expertise without needing an extra room.
- If Airbnb Plus is an example of a product upsell, their Experiences are a great example of a cross-sell.
AIRBNB PRICE/PRICING STRATEGY:
Airbnb generates its revenue by charging a service fees from the hosts. Airbnb does not charge anything for its services offered from the travelers or the consumers directly. Instead, it currently charges 3% service fees on each reservation made irrespective of the listing type or whether it is a single host or co-host from the hosts which is ultimately borne by the travelers or the guests.
The hosts also have various standard cancellation policies which they can choose from with different guidelines for refunds in case either the hosts or the guests cancel their bookings before their arrival or after their arrival.
- Airbnb understands the importance of maintaining a healthy supply of properties. And while many businesses have been created which rent out properties on Airbnb, there are still a significant number of properties where the host still lives. They either rent out a spare room or their entire property when they go away.
- Hence most of the host is unable to provide an accurate renting amount, so Airbnb does a thorough inspection of the rental, giving a primary rating and checking all the necessities and gives an approximate upper and lower limit of rental charges.
AIRBNB PLACE & DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY:
Airbnb started in San Francisco in 2007 with the owners turning their living room into bed& breakfast. As this idea grew they created a website offering short-term living quarters to people who found hotel bookings expensive or couldn’t find a booking.
By 2009, the website had expanded from air beds and shared spaces to several other properties including entire homes, apartments, private rooms, castles, boats, and other properties and have also started offering various ‘experiences’ as well.
Currently, Airbnb provides access to accommodations and experiences in more than 191 countries through its web portal. It can be accessed through all digital platforms and thus has a strong global reach.
Since the company is digital and web based, the reach is widespread and always increasing in different areas. At the moment there are 30,00,000+ hosts that are involved with the company and easy sign up as well as cancellation makes the company approachable and hospitable. In addition, the niche of the company is to provide stays to customers at cheaper rate and host can be anyone from a house owner to a 5 star hotel.
Thus, Airbnb can be used by anyone in the internet ecosystem.
AIRBNB PROMOTION & ADVERTISING STRATEGY:
Airbnb is promoted through a mix of marketing channels. It advertises to the hosts and travelers through traditional as well as modern methods such as TV advertisements, Outdoor Advertising and Digital media marketing.
- Airbnb is trying to communicate the value proposition of ‘living like a local’ through its advertisements and uses a geo-localized strategy for this promotion by creating content relevant to a given location. It also uses social media analytics to target the relevant audience for the various properties listed on its portal.
- The company also undertakes various public relation activities such as extending support and donating to various causes such as offering free accommodation for people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New York in November 2012, thus undertaking cause-related marketing.
- The logo and website were also redesigned based on the inputs of a consumer survey. Airbnb also provides sponsorship to various events and has partnered with other agencies for more brand visibility.
- Airbnb has well-integrated their social marketing strategy with their content marketing strategy. On Instagram, with numerous images of spectacular cityscapes, inspiring holiday moments, charming listings, Airbnb has created their own community with more than 3.4 million followers. With hashtag #AirBnb, users can share their experience when using Airbnb service and be able to book accommodation directly through the link provided in every feed.
- On YouTube, Airbnb continuously publishes their new videos. Most of them have highlighted the “Belong Anywhere” mantra of Airbnb. Some videos such as “Wall and Chain”, ‘We Accept’ gained huge attention of community with over 5 million views. Airbnb demonstrates that conveying meaningful stories through their social platforms enables them to strengthen customer bond with their brand name.
The mains goals of influential marketing are to improve brand advocacy, expand brand awareness, and approach new targeted audiences, improve sales conversion, manage reputation, drive lead generation, and improve customer satisfaction. Since 84% of millennials and 73% of non-millennials have trend to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates.
- As a part of their strategy, Airbnb planned their sponsorship campaign in conjunction with major popular events to receive attention from both social media community and journalism. Their first influencer campaign started in 2015 with Mariah Carey. With over 6 million followers on Instagram at that moment, Carey tagged Airbnb in her post with then received 45,000 likes.
- By collaborating with Lady Gaga in a campaign in 2017, Airbnb had exposed their brand name to 27 million followers of Lady Gaga on Instagram, increasing huge opportunity to approach Airbnb potential customers. Marketing strategy, using influencers, has contributed significantly to the tremendous growth of Airbnb’s credit in the last few years.