This summer travel season is expected to hit records, with the United Nations World Tourism Organization predicting tourism will return to pre-pandemic levels.
But with the ongoing economic downturn, wanderlust is set to the backdrop of high prices and tighter pockets. That’s why, as Airbnb gears up for the summer season, it’s focused on advertising Airbnb Rooms, a new category for travelers to search for private room stays with a local.
The Rooms category, which launched on May 3, offers a curated set of more than 1 million private rooms and provides details on hosts through a profile page called “Host Passport.”
A new ad campaign promoting the feature, which launched on May 11, comes as more people look for ways to save on summer travel. Last year, one night stays in private rooms grew by 40% compared to the year prior, according to a press release. More than 80% of private rooms listed on the platform are under $100 per night, with an average rate of $67 per night.
Creative for the campaign features short testimonials of unique experiences travelers have had when staying with a host. In one spot, a couple learns to make sushi with their host in Kyoto, where another set of travelers visits the best destinations in Florence thanks to the recommendations of their host.
The campaign is part of a larger rollout for the summer 2023 to reintroduce Rooms and attract younger audiences, Nancy King, VP of marketing at Airbnb, told Campaign US.
“Staying in a room in someone's house was the original Airbnb. That's how Airbnb started. But, not surprisingly, during the pandemic, people stopped staying in each other's homes and it gave us an opportunity to really think about the product and how we can make it better,” she said.
Airbnb realized that it had never advertised Rooms before and began to think about ways to reintroduce it at a time when people might still feel uneasy about staying in someone’s home, despite a widespread return to normalcy.
“The idea of staying with a stranger is so counterintuitive. We anticipate the worst case scenario in people,” King explained.
She added that it felt like a good time to reintroduce Rooms, as people are concerned about affordability and are experiencing the impacts of years of loneliness and isolation.
Along with the campaign, Airbnb updated the Rooms product with redesigned wishlists including an all-new interface, one-tap saving, and an improved calendar that shows availability of wishlisted homes. It also added total price display, an option to view the total price with fees, before taxes, across the entire app including in search results, price filter, maps, and listing pages. Finally, transparent checkout instructions allow guests to view their checkout instructions on the listing page before booking, and receive a reminder before they leave the home.
The campaign is just the first push in what Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky promised would be a “major brand campaign” on the company’s Q1 earnings call Thursday.
With it, he hopes to recruit young budget travelers to the brand.
“We're investing in brand marketing because in general, Airbnb is a company that's asked people to try new things,” said King. “it's hard to imagine what that's like unless you show people.”