Airbnb, the company that disrupted the travel industry by allowing travelers to “live there” has lost some of its magic. City officials are cracking down. The hotel industry, starting with Marriott, is getting into home sharing. And some unethical hosts have been caught renting illegally, spying on guests, and eroding local culture.
Influence from without or within?
Our assignment was to come up with an influencer marketing program that could help reverse Airbnb’s fortunes. Our instructor (and some of my teammates) assumed we’d ask travel influencers or existing Airbnb guests to convince travelers to keep booking with Airbnb. But after interviewing some Superhosts and Hosts, I believed we needed to do more.
Hosts are struggling. But Superhosts are thriving.
I learned that hosts are struggling as a result of Airbnb’s challenges. Especially new-ish female millennial hosts. Given that the fastest growing segment of Airbnb guests is - you guessed it - millennial women, the potential negative impact was huge. But, as it turns out, Superhosts continue to get plenty of bookings. They get glowing guest reviews and earn 22% more on average.
A creative way to change the conversation.
So I convinced my teammates that instead of engaging paid travel influencers, we should ask organic influencers - millennial female Superhosts - to influence millennial female hosts by giving them the training and support they need to remain hosts. Even better, the Superhosts can help the Hosts become Superhosts who provide an amazing guest experience, resulting in a boost in status and earnings. And we can change the conversation in the travel industry from Airbnb’s shortcomings to its commitment to its hosts and guests.
Trading Places influencer marketing program.
Trading Places lets Superhosts swap homes and knowledge with Hosts. For example, Suzanna, a Superhost in New Orleans, stays in Host Maggie’s home in Baton Rouge for one weekend. Suzanna brings along a checklist and rates Maggie’s home, then shares her findings in person (and on camera) with Maggie. Later that month, Maggie travels to Suzanna’s home to soak up some inspo and observe firsthand exactly what makes staying at Suzanna’s place so “super”.
Expanding reach by proxy.
Along the way, our Superhost Micro Influencers (and Hosts) create Trading Places related content - videos, posts, and longer-form articles. Then we increase their reach by featuring that content throughout Airbnb’s owned and earned ecosystem. Airbnb’s Instagram alone has 4 million followers. Airbnb also has an active YouTube presence, an online portal where Superhosts and Hosts can connect, multiple live events for hosts and Superhosts, and a travel magazine published by Conde Nast.
An influencer marketing program with brand and cash value.
WIIFM - overview.
Why would successful Superhosts want to take part in Trading Places? They’re compensated; they’ll likely become minor celebritites within the world of Airbnb. Their properties will be even more popular and lucrative. And they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve given other female millennials a leg up.
What about the hosts? They get access to best practices and troubleshooting, exposure for them and their property, ultimately resulting in more bookings and a chance to rise to Superhost status in record time.
The deets: how to find, incent, activate, and monitor Superhost micro influencers
The deets: how to find, incent, activate, and monitor Host participants.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.