Airbnb “Should Be Disrupting Our Own Business”: Global CMO

Airbnb “Should Be Disrupting Our Own Business”: Global CMO

The evolution of Airbnb has gone from two mates renting out an airbed in their apartment to a disruptive phenomenon on a global scale, but it’s not satisfied with resting on its laurels.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

Or at least that’s the sentiments of the company’s global chief marketing officer Jonathon Mildenhall, who when speaking to B&T said Airbnb was “restless”.

“Here in Silicon Valley, the appetite for innovation within companies is just extreme,” Mildenhall said, hinting at further innovations of the business later this year.

“We as a company continue to innovate within itself, and this coming November we’ve got further great product and service news to show that Airbnb is kind of restless with its current state.

“We believe that we should be disrupting our own business not because we want to but because consumers demand it.”

The home sharing business on Friday launched a series of localised, Aussie-narrated ads that build on its latest campaign inspiring travellers to “live” their destinations, by swapping the American accent for a more familiar one.

Airbnb kicked off its ‘Never A Stranger’ campaign a couple of years ago to address what Mildenhall said was a “universal tension” surrounding Airbnb’s business model.

“The team uncovered some insight at the time that showed when you said you were travelling with Airbnb, people would say, Are you crazy? Is it safe? Is it ok?,” he told B&T.

“This was amplified even further with people putting homes on Airbnb and sharing their homes with strangers.”

From this, the campaign to address what Mildenhall calls the “uncomfortable truth of Airbnb” was born, growing the brand to four times the size it was at that time.

But the journey doesn’t stop there, with Mildenhall telling B&T the next challenge was identifying the next “universal tension” that needed addressing, and that was the state of modern tourism.

“We started thinking, we’ve done stranger tension, but then we identified a bigger global tension which affects all travellers and that tension is modern travel,” he added.

“And that’s the way people are shepherded around in groups, waiting outside monuments to take same pictures, eating at the same restaurants, visiting the same attractions.

“When people travel they want local experiences, not tourist experiences. Now we’re actually addressing this global need because people think modern travel is sick.”

Looking at its community of users and hosts at large, Mildenhall said it’s one of the most varied environments he’s ever worked in.

“The Airbnb community is so diverse – we’ve got families, singles, LGBT, different ethnicities – all travelling around – so we want to make sure the marketing of Airbnb is as diverse as platform itself.

“I cannot think of another brand that’s been able to do millennials and families with same kind of cool.

“We looked at the trajectory of Airbnb and thought we’ve got to start looking at families, but we don’t want to turn into a brand that millennials don’t think is cool, so we needed to use the same kind of creativity we use in millennial spots.”