While nearly all industries and most media activations faced unprecedented challenges last year, the ability for a travel brand to thrive using experiential marketing was not simply a matter of luck, says Nick Wilkins, communications director for Airbnb, which surmounted these difficulties, he says, by staying true to its brand identity and marketing attitude.
The brand’s positioning of “people belonging everywhere” shifted naturally to “belonging here.” In the era of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the typical allure of far-off, short-term rentals in Airbnb members’ dwellings held little appeal. And given state and city governments’ restrictions, travel became more of a hassle than a practical consideration.
Instead, with its “Go Near” campaign promoting local travel, in partnership with Weber Shandwick West, Los Angeles, Airbnb “curated” stays in unusual places for local residents looking for an escape from their all-too-familiar surroundings.
Among the curious curations listed on Airbnb was a stay for Garden Staters at the 19th-century Jersey Shore roadside attraction Lucy the Elephant, the six-story piece of novelty architecture that became a symbol of resiliency after it was saved from destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In September, Los Angeles County residents got the chance to book one of five nostalgic stays in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s mansion. Guests were charged $30 a night in recognition of the 30 years since the Will Smith sitcom first aired on NBC, and the effort garnered nearly 19,000 original stories, 39 million organic social impres
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