Airbnb wants to be a media company as it calls on agencies to treat it like a brand-building channel

Airbnb

The founder and chief executive of Airbnb has revealed his desire for the platform to be seen as a media owner amongst creative agencies and brand marketers.

Brian Chesky, who made his first appearance at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France today (20 June) called on creatives to consider the platform as a branding channel, similar to a Facebook or Instagram, rather than simply an accommodation booking site.

But this won't mean a flurry of ads popping up on the site. Chesky is looking for creatives to get imaginative with how they can engage people with a brand on a per night basis.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions festival in France today (20 June), Chesky exemplified its potential effectiveness as a media channel as he talked through a campaign recently run by The Art Institute of Chicago.

Created by Leo Burnett Chicago, a room was transformed into a replica of Van Gogh's famous ‘The Bedroom’ painting which people could then pay $10 a night to sleep in.

“It was one of the most popular things we’ve even done,” Chesky said, revealing that the campaign resulted in a triple-figure leap in visits to the Art Institute and several Cannes Lions nominations.

“Now what we want to do is turn Airbnb into a platform, and we want to invite any creative or brand to create something like the Van Gogh piece.”

It could mark a potentially new revenue stream for the company – valued at some $25bn – if brands take him up on the offer.

To encourage agencies to try it out Airbnb has launched a new website featuring some early case studies and talking through how it comes together.

During the interview with Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, Chesky also said that we’re now in an “experience-based economy” and as such Airbnb will go beyond just helping people book accommodation and instead look at how it can shape the entire travel experience.

Around 20 per cent of Airbnb trips are now for longer than 30 days, which shows that people want to experience different cultures, he said.

It’s made no secret of its intent to craft new services to facilitate this, recently trialing a new City Hosts program which promises guests their own private guide during their trip.

More services of this ilk are expected to be announced in November after its annual meeting in Los Angeles.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is deputy news editor at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in the retail and FMCG sectors. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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