Airbnb’s Strategy: Marketing for Hosts and Audiences – A Case Study

Updated on: Oct 2, 2023
Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study

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My name is Aditya Shastri and I have written this case study with the help of my students from IIDE's online digital marketing courses in India.

Practical assignments, case studies & simulations from Harvard Business Review helped the students from this course present this analysis.

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Some brands have grown exponentially since their inception. Airbnb is one of them. How did they manage it? What did they do to increase their customer base? What did they do to keep their consumers coming back? We think Airbnb’s Marketing Strategy played a significant part in all this, especially its digital marketing strategy. This article analyses a few digital marketing strategies used by the company to give you an insight into what they have been doing.

About Airbnb

Airbnb was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. It started out as a platform for people to rent out their air mattresses to travelers. Airbnb stands for “Air bed and breakfast”  Over the years, it has grown into a global marketplace for short-term rentals, including apartments, houses, villas, and even castles.

Being a service-based company, Airbnb offers a wide range of benefits for both hosts and guests. it is currently present in about 220 countries and has around 7 million active listings on its website providing home rental and lodging services.

Now that we are discussing Airbnb, let’s take a look at their marketing strategy too.

What’s new with Airbnb?

Here’s what was buzzing around Airbnb recently:

  • Airbnb and the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, signed an MoU to promote India as a tourist destination and to support sustainable tourism practices.
  • Airbnb partners with SHEROES to grow its community of women hosts in India.
  • Airbnb launched a new program called “Airbnb Superhost Academy”  which is a special designation that is given to the top 10% of Airbnb hosts.
  • Airbnb Rooms: Airbnb introduced a new category called Airbnb Rooms, which features private bedrooms in the homes of local Hosts.
  • Airbnb collaborated with iconic brands to create unique and memorable experiences. Guests could stay in Barbie’s Malibu Dream House or Monica’s house from Monica and Friends.

Let’s now understand the target audience of Airbnb better with the help of a buyer persona.

Digital Marketing Academic Challenge 2024 - DMAC

Buyer Persona of Airbnb

A buyer persona generally refers to the detailed information of an ideal customer of a company. When it comes to Airbnb, people from India use it the most. This buyer persona will help you understand the attributes of regular a Airbnb user.

Buyer’s Persona




New orleans, USA


25-34 years


Digital marketer


  • To have memorable and authentic travel experiences.
  • To meet new people and learn about different cultures.
  • To relax and de-stress from work.
  • To find SAFE and affordable accommodations.
  • Ease of booking. And Booking in a few clicks.

Interest & Hobbies

  • Travel, 
  • exploring new cultures, 
  • meeting new people, 
  • trying new foods,
  •  being active outdoors

Pain Points

  • Cost of travel
  • Finding unique and authentic accommodations
  • Feeling safe and comfortable while traveling

Social Media Presence

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • youtube

From the table above we can conclude that an ideal Airbnb user is someone who is interested in travel, exploring new cultures, and meeting new people.

Want to know about the current challenges of Airbnb? Read a detailed SWOT Analysis of the brand before moving on with marketing strategies.


Airbnb Marketing Strategies


1. Search Engine Optimisation

Airbnb has put a lot of effort into SEO.

As per Ubersuggest data, it ranks in India for 509,847 keywords as of September 2023. Its organic traffic is1,525,845 sessions per month. The stats are high compared to their SEO performance in April  2023.


It is very difficult to get to know the Search Engine Optimisation techniques used by Zomato because they have blocked all the SEO tools from scanning their sites.

Here are some of their Search Engine Optimisation strategies :



Airbnb gets backlinks from 146,031 unique domains. All this increases the Domain Authority of Airbnb’s domain and helps it rank higher.

2. Social Media Marketing

Airbnb is active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. As of August 2023,Airbnb boasts 16 million likes on their Facebook page. It has 5.4 million followers on Instagram, 636k subscribers on Youtube and 880.5k followers on Twitter.

Let’s now analyze how their posts are:

  1. Airbnb’s social media content is focused on storytelling and inspiration. The company shares stories and photos from travelers, as well as tips and recommendations for planning trips and choosing accommodations.


Airbnb’s marketing mix successfully leverages user-generated content, and social media posts made by its customers to reach and engage its target audience.

2. Airbnb  talks about social causes and calls for support through their non profit arm


3. Airbnb is partnering with Marc Marquez, a MotoGP champion, to host an overnight stay in his squad’s motorhome at the Catalan Grand Prix. Airbnb is also using storytelling and behind-the-scenes content to promote this experience. The company is sharing photos and videos of the motorhome and the race track, and it is giving potential guests a glimpse of what they can expect if they book this experience.


This marketing strategy comes under influencer marketing which is an arm of Paid marketing and is effective because it allows Airbnb to reach a large audience of potential guests through a trusted source

Airbnb’s influencer marketing strategy is one of the most well-thought-out marketing moves. It collaborates with high-profile celebrities to advertise extensively to reach new audiences. 

In these collaborations, the celebrities usually post pictures of their luxurious Airbnb stay on popular social media platforms, especially Instagram. Thus, driving increased website traffic and leads generation.


Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study - Influencer Marketing Strategy


Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study - Influencer Marketing Strategy


4. Airbnb’s social media feed consists primarily of stunning visuals of its listings. This strategy effectively showcases the company’s product and inspires potential guests to travel to these destinations.



3. Experiential marketing X Brand collaboration

Experiential marketing is a form of marketing that engages customers in a brand by creating experiences that are memorable and emotionally engaging.

They go to extra mile with their collaboration with movies & shows. Like the Barbie house to promote the movie & the The house of Monica, the lead character of Brazil’s ‘Monica and Friends’


A listing on Airbnb promising tourists a stay at Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse has arisen ahead of the debut of filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated “Barbie” film. Other digital parts of the campaign included Instagram posts and interactive social media material that asked consumers about their experiences. The ticket was given out for free, and Airbnb gained popularity as a result of this campaign.

This collaboration is mutually beneficial, as it helps to promote both brands.

3. Content Marketing Strategy of Airbnb

Airbnb’s website is an excellent example of a service-based business using content marketing. 

As a service-based business, they don’t focus on selling its services but focus on showcasing and selling the unique experiences that customers have had using Airbnb in the form of blogs and video content.  


Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study - Content Marketing Strategy

This is how Airbnb’s content marketing strategy helps it showcase its authentic self.

4. Traditional Promotion Strategy of Airbnb

Airbnb has several marketing channels as it uses both, online and offline forms of approach to showcase its offerings. 

The promotions are mainly targeted at local customers to make them aware of Airbnb through city guides and unique experiences through its website. A lot of promotions are also done to create social buzz about the Airbnb brand through social media accounts and word-of-mouth. 


Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Promotion Strategy


Unlike other global brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s or Starbucks, Airbnb is looking at alternatives to market itself locally instead of globally. 

So this is how Airbnb has worked out its promotion strategy.


Marketing and Advertising Campaign Examples

Here are some of the unique and successful advertising campaigns of Airbnb:

  1. “The Airbnb Superhost” campaign: This campaign showcases the unique stories of Airbnb Superhosts, who are the top 10% of Airbnb hosts. The campaign is designed to highlight the importance of hosts and the role that they play in the Airbnb experience


2. Airbnb’s “Rooms” campaign: This campaign was launched in May 2023 and is designed to promote Airbnb’s new “Rooms” category, which allows guests to book private bedrooms in the homes of local Hosts. The campaign features a series of ads that show people from all over the world staying in Airbnb Rooms and having unique and authentic experiences.


3. Airbnb’s “Pride” campaign: This campaign was launched in June 2023 to celebrate Pride Month. The campaign features a series of ads that show people from all over the world celebrating Pride in Airbnb listings. The campaign is designed to show that Airbnb is a welcoming and inclusive platform for everyone.



4. Made possible by Hosts

Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - A Case Study - Marketing Campaign Strategy - Made Possible By The Hosts


Airbnb has always focused on stepping up its efforts to build a strong community of hosts. The campaign called, “Made Possible by Hosts”, highlights the positive contributions that Airbnb hosts make when opening their homes to strangers around the world and also thanking them in a way for their constant support.

This marketing campaign of Airbnb was launched in February 2021. This also marked the first time that Airbnb had invested in TV ads in five years. The campaign ran across a wide mix of promotional channels, including primetime shows.

5. Airbnb it

Airbnb had also launched a marketing campaign called “Airbnb It” aimed at attracting new hosts to the platform. The campaign seeks to expand people’s understanding of what an Airbnb can be by encouraging them to list any unoccupied space they own on the platform. The goal was to show potential hosts that they don’t need a dedicated vacation rental property to participate in Airbnb and that they can make use of the spaces they already have.

Marketing Strategy of Airbnb - Airbnb It


Failed Campaigns of Airbnb 

Airbnb more than often grabs attention with its unique marketing. But, there have been a few times when the campaign failed to connect with the audiences and gained backlash. 

Here are a few examples of failed campaigns of Airbnb:

  1. “Is Mankind?” marketing campaign
  • Issue: To promote diversity and tolerance, Airbnb launched the “Is Mankind?” marketing campaign in 2017 with billboards bearing the phrases “We Accept Different” and “We Accept the Vagabond.”
  • Reaction: The campaign received criticism for coming across as opportunistic and disingenuous, with detractors charging Airbnb with using social and political issues for commercial gain. Many people claimed that the business did not deal with its own problems, such as discrimination on its platform and housing shortages in some places.
  • Brand Reaction: As a result of the criticism, Airbnb changed their strategy. The brand toned down its language and made an effort to allay critics’ concerns while still keeping the campaign in place. The incident demonstrated the necessity for genuine connection between marketing initiatives and significant actions, causing Airbnb to reevaluate its message approach and take action to strengthen its commitment to the causes it aimed to advocate. It acted as a reminder for the brand of the value of sincere participation in societal issues in marketing initiatives.airbnb failed

    2. Airbnb’s “Floating World” campaign:

  • This campaign, launched in 2017, advertised floating homes and water-themed attractions just as Hurricane Harvey was engulfing Houston. The campaign was widely criticized as insensitive and tone-deaf.airbnb float

    3. Airbnb’s “Live There” campaign:

  • This campaign, launched in 2016, encouraged people to move to new cities and live in Airbnb listings. The campaign was criticized for being unrealistic and for glossing over the challenges of moving to a new city.


Top Competitors of Airbnb 

Here’s the list of top competitors of Airbnb:

  • Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner)
  • Expedia
  • HomeAway


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As we wrap up our analysis of Airbnb’s impressive digital marketing strategy, it’s clear that staying up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques is key to success in the digital marketing world.

Whether you’re a marketing professional or just starting out, be sure to check out our free digital marketing masterclass to gain a solid foundation in the essentials of digital marketing.

Who knows, you might just develop the next big marketing strategy like Airbnb’s! Don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments on Airbnb’s strategy in the comments below.

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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