Airbnb pioneered the peer-to-peer marketplace model for the travel and hospitality business leading to the emergence of the shared economy model. Airbnb’s growth is fuelled by its hyperlocal content strategy and its ability to curate stories from its 150 million users and 640,000 hosts spread across 191 countries.
For a brand that operates in so many countries being consistent is not an option and content marketing thrives on consistency. Airbnb offers curated stories and experiences based on your chosen city or neighborhood. Curation works as the audience can relate to content and as the brand’s punchline right says ‘Don’t go there. Live there
Curating Stories: Airbnb’s Hyperlocal Content Strategy
City Guides: Explore the neighborhood
As Airbnb matured as a platform, the founding team realized that they need to provide more information to users to plan their trips. Airbnb acquired Nabewise a City Guide that aggregates curated information for specified location and rebranded it as Airbnb Neighborhoods in 2012. The site helps travelers to explore the neighborhood, places to visit, things they can do and more. Hyperlocal recommendations boost engagement as they personalize the experience for the user.
Before Airbnb Neighbourhoods went live people were forced to visit Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet to find this information before they booked their vacation rental. The site also links to all the places one could stay in the given location. Airbnb also allows users to enhance maps and testimonials to provide more personalized experience. Airbnb relies on its team of 70 local photographers who have contributed over 4,000 photos for the project so far.
Airbnb Blog & Economic Impact Series
Airbnb Blog covers stories and perspectives from its hosts. The blog doesn’t follow a set template for its articles which makes the stories more appealing to its audience.
Local lens section on the blog offers individual narratives similar to Airbnb stories. Local lens sections feature local lists for cities curated by hosts, travel journals, location specific stories, etc. Besides regular travel & location specific experience, Airbnb also addresses issues like trust & safety on its blog. Airbnb Blog offers geo-specific content in 10 different languages.
Airbnb also releases reports on the economic impact it has created in the cities in which it operates. Economic Impact Series outlines the direct spending, revenue generated for the city and other details on travel spending patterns of its travelers.
Airbnb entered into a joint-venture with Hearst Publications earlier this year to launch Airbnb Mag. The magazine will have six issues every year and will rely on searches on the website to determine which stories to pursue.
Airbnb Mag covers four sections which include the following:
- The Local: Covers advice on how to eat, play & shop from a local’s perspective.
- Stay: Features Airbnb properties, as well as tips and hacks on how to feel at home while traveling.
- Roam: Covers stories and destinations to inspire readers to plan their next trip.
- Belong: Cover real-life adventures from hosts and guests on Airbnb.
The magazine also has a column called “Not Yet Trending,” which profiles a location that has recently spiked in popularity according to Airbnb data but isn’t yet a mainstream travel destination.
“There’s the possibility that it can be saved. It isn’t ephemeral, as opposed to content on a feed that expires.”
– Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb
Every piece of content published in the magazine curated content shared by its hosts and regular travelers. The magazine went to print with a guaranteed circulation of 3,50,000 copies.
Curated Short Films
Airbnb creates independent short films based on reviews and experience shared by hosts and guests. To mark the 25th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall Airbnb shared a story of a guest who traveled to Berlin for the first time since working as a guard during the Cold War.
Airbnb also creates geo-specific content by covering stories of its super hosts from each country. The below video from a series of stories covering super hosts in Japan has already racked in 2.2 million views on YouTube. Curated short films are an extension of its hyperlocal content strategy to tap into the stories and experiences from its large host community.
“We strongly believe in the power of good storytelling, and in recent months we have evolved our strategy to place the focus on our community,”
– Dennis Goedegebuure, Head of Global SEO, Airbnb
Airbnb Open is the brands annual festival on travel and hospitality. The festival is also the gathering of all Airbnb super hosts which enables the brand to engage and nurture its community. Airbnb Open sessions are recorded and uploaded on the brands YouTube channel.
Airbnb’s hyperlocal content strategy works because of its ability to tap into the local knowledge, passion and enthusiasm of its host community. Airbnb has been able to build a parallel content business without owning the content themselves. Its success has not been without its share of failures like the Pineapple print-magazine which never went to print after being announced in 2014. Airbnb has succeeded largely as it sees content to be a core part of the product itself rather being separate from it.