How Airbnb is using their digital story to engage with people

What kind of travel do you want?

Last year, Airbnb came up with a new campaign: “Don’t go there. Live there.” In this campaign, they gave people a new idea about travel. “Don’t go to Paris. Don’t tour Paris, and please don’t do Paris. Live in Paris.”

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When I first saw this video, I felt being inspired. What an interesting comparison in this video, in this campaign! In most of the time, people go to somewhere just to show that they have been to somewhere. They take photos before the scenic spots no matter how crowded it is in their background. They eat specialized tourism food instead of eating local food. The photos can show that they have been to this place. Food doesn’t matter at all. To be honest, people in my parents’ generation still like traveling in this way. They like traveling with tourist groups with all the things well-planned before their departure. They like to see the view on the tour bus and take fast photos on tourist attractions then leave with satisfaction. This kind of travel can give them a sense of safety.

But for most of young people today, things are different. We don’t like being bound by the rules of tourist groups. We don’t like all the things are well-planned. We want surprise. We want to experience more. Just like the slogan of Airbnb’s campaign, yes, we don’t want to go there. We want to live there! Airbnb just said what we were thinking.

Airbnb also uses different digital tools like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to convey their new ideas about travel. In my opinion, they really did a good job to engage people with their stories. So how is Airbnb using their digital story to engage with people? I think the reasons can be discussed from three different aspects.

1. High Quality of Contents

If you open the Instagram of Airbnb, you can see all the photos have high quality, good composition and beautiful colors. What’s more important, they don’t like normal photos of visitors. They were more like taken at home. You can see girl were thinking in the room. Kids were playing with their grandpa. Man were enjoying himself in playing with guitar. Friends were running together.

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Can you feel that? Just looking through these photos can make me feel excited! Airbnb let me know there are so many beautiful places in the world. And there are so many possibilities during travel. Can you image having yoga class on a mountaintop? Well, Airbnb told you that nothing is impossible. The likes of this photo shows that they really did a good job.

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The quality of contents is vital to brands’ digital stories. In 2009, Airbnb almost dead because of the low revenue. The founders did lots of researches, finally found out that the photos on their site sucked. After they improved the pictures, the weekly revenue doubled from $200 to $400 per week. So, from this story, we can see the importance of the quality of content. I think not just the photos, all the contents the brands post online should have a high quality. It can show your sincere.

If you want your audience engage with your story, show them the high quality of contents. Be sincere please.

2. Focus on People

Opening the official website of Airbnb, you can find that it’s not all about booking a room like other websites which have the same function. You can see they call it homes. “Home” is the word can give more belongingness and safety to people. Besides, there are lots of experiences hosted by different local people to help you live as a local. It’s cool, right?

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Airbnb uses all their tools(FB, Ins, Twitter, YouTube) to convey their key message about their brand, about their campaign. To help you live as a local, they even added restaurants reservation function. Just as the video mentioned, at home you know your favorite restaurants, to make you feel like at home, Airbnb add this new function for you to find local favorites wherever you travel to.

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Airbnb really cares about people. Can you feel that?

They created Airbnb community to let people communicate with each other. If you explore their YouTube channel, you can see the stories from the big Airbnb community. The stories are not only from influencers but also from some ordinary people. When I saw some of them, I felt related to the stories. And that can inspire me to explore more with Airbnb.

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Different from other brands which just provide a room for you when you travel, Airbnb choose to provide a home, a community, a kind of culture for you. In their stories, you can see people communicate with different people, with nature, with animals… Although stories are different, they have a same concentration that is people. They use stories to show that Airbnb cares about you. So when their customers or potential customers watch the stories, they can feel being relevant and related. That’s how Airbnb engage with people.

3. Leading the trend

As I mentioned above, the young generation today don’t like traveling in an old way. They want surprise. They want unique experiences. According to data from Airbnb, 52% of these younger-minded U.S. travelers find crowds at major tourist attractions to be more stressful than doing a tax return, while 47% don’t like to be labeled as tourists when they go to a new place. Airbnb just captures the ideas from the generation and comes up with the ideas of modern tourist industry that is “Don’t go there. Live there.”

So, Airbnb is leading the trend of modern tourist industry. They told us what we really want when traveling. One important thing for marketing is that create the demand before your customers even realize they want it. I think Airbnb is doing things like this. They use their stories to inspire new generation to find out new trends in traveling. They are the leaders of the new industry.

Airbnb not only change the tourist industry, they also change the vacation rental industry. They provide a safe and transparent platform for hosts. And most important, the user experiences are simple and good. The success of Airbnb shows how crucial to find the blue ocean industry and lead the trends.

However, Airbnb might face some problems even though they did a good job by using different digital tools. The trust is easily to build online but hard in real life. Although Airbnb wants to build a harmony community in both online and offline, if there are some people use this platform to cheat, to fraud or show discrimination, all the effort from Airbnb will waste. Once you lose your trust, you can’t get it back. Airbnb must take it seriously.

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But at least so far, they have done well. People are inspired by their stories and they trust Airbnb. Just like me. I’m already thinking about the destination for my next holiday. How about you?

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