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What DMO’s Can Learn From Airbnb

Airbnb is crafting a new way of travelling – and according to their ethos, a new way of belonging. A few months ago, the Silicon Valley sweetheart announced a massive update to the company’s positioning and corporate identity. Naturally, I was drawn to the aesthetics of the new site, app UI and logo, though after taking the tour I realised that I experienced something more significant than flat design and good copywriting.

Despite some initial backlash about the new logo, Airbnb’s new brand and credo triggered a fresh approach to exploration, trust, and hospitality.

LESSONS FOR DMO’S:

Hospitality can be trendy

Within their community, Airbnb is shaping a culture of being a true host. Hospitality is packaged and romanticised in such a way that offering a safe, considerate, clean and unique experience is as rewarding for the host, as it is for the traveller. This is made tangible and relatable through a series of host ‘stories’.

Using emotion and personal connection to tackle challenges of privacy and safety

The web, and social media in particular, has altered privacy forever. For travel, the effect of this can commonly be seen in people’s increasing willingness to rely on others during the travel cycle. This transparency fostered a “locals know best” approach – a valuable asset for destination marketers, and also the secret sauce behind companies like Tripbod (recently acquired by TripAdvisor). On the flip side, travellers are also becoming more reliant on their social communities and networks for shaping their perceptions of quality, authenticity and safety in destinations. Privacy and trust has not deteriorated, it has evolved. Airbnb strikes a beautiful balance between these two concepts: A booking and planning tool for escaping one’s comfort zone and embracing true authenticity, sheltered by the values of belonging, safety and connection.

Storytelling and Design as a PR Tool

New York City and Airbnb have a complicated relationship. With more than a thousand listings available to travellers, NYC is definitely one of the site’s biggest host cities. However, Airbnb has run into their fair share of complex Big Apple speed bumps usually concerned with housing regulations.

In response to this, Airbnb launched airbnbnyc.com, an initiative that combines community building and design, based on a strategy that can very well be leveraged to solve challenges around reputation management of destinations.

The purpose? Education.

The site showcases sexy infographics on Airbnb’s positive economic impact on NYC, personal stories on how the platform has helped New Yorkers, and a call-to-action for those want to contribute.

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