Skift Take

Airbnb has been a savvy public relations practitioner throughout the years, and the volume of press releases the company churns out annually is legion. Brian Chesky's yearlong digital nomad stint aligns with the company's brand narrative and marketing strategy.

Series: Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal will bring readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.

Learn More

Online Travel This Week

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky hasn’t been shy in the past about acknowledging that public relations, and a torrent of resultant press stories have been instrumental in building the Airbnb brand — and he’s wasting no time proceeding with that formula in 2022.

Chesky, who has roughly 405,000 Twitter followers, tweeted Tuesday that he will be living in Airbnb properties throughout the year, moving to another city or town every few weeks, in a bid to highlight the “decentralization of living,” where millions of Airbnb guests he predicted will head abroad or otherwise away from home to live and work in 2022.

From July through December 2021, 20 percent of nights booked through Airbnb were for stays of one month or longer, Chesky tweeted, and stays of one week or longer made up nearly half of all nights booked.

“In 2022, I think the biggest trend in travel will be people spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time,” he tweeted.

The digital nomad CEO, who said he’ll return to his home base in San Francisco often enough during the year, tweeted that his global tour — Atlanta is the first stop — will “be fun, but more importantly it will help us improve the experience for people who can now live anywhere.”

Lots of destinations hire social media influencers to tout the attractiveness of their cuisine, cultures or communities, but Chesky will undoubtably fill that role on his own this year, garnering social media and press attention, as he hops from listing to listing based on his priorities of securing good Wifi and adequate work and living space, as well as walkable neighborhoods where he can soak up the local vibe.

Hey, Airbnb, other booking platforms, airlines, destinations, and media outfits such as The New York Times don’t have a patent on generating buzz based on escapades such as these. In 2011, Starwood Hotels proclaimed it would relocate its CEO and senior management to Shanghai, China to live and work for a month.

While Chesky is seeking to punctuate the notion that travel and living are being redefined on Airbnb through digital nomadic wanderings, Starwood at the time was promoting the ascendancy of China and the hotel chain’s commitment to what was its second largest market.

If coming away from his year of living in Airbnbs with tons of learnings about how to improve the Airbnb experience is the goal, Chesky is certainly not the right person for the job. True, some hosts may not recognize the name Brian Chesky when they accept a booking and welcome their new VIP guest, but many will.

Also diminishing the authenticity of the experience, as some of the twitterati have pointed out, will be what happens when the Airbnb CEO needs to contact customer service to resolve a problem with a host or property. Chesky will certainly not have to wait the many hours that regular Airbnb guests have to deal with when something goes awry with their booking.

But the Airbnb CEO’s living the brand, and getting out there in the boondocks, will certainly generate a ton of free media.

In Brief

Expedia to Advertise in the Super Bowl February 13

In a somewhat daring move, Expedia is slated to run a pricey ad during the February 13 Super Bowl, which will be televised on NBC TV. Sister brand Vrbo, which offers vacation rentals, will tout its wares during the pre-game broadcast. Wall Street Journal

Sonder Is Set to Go Public Wednesday

Hotel and short-term rental operator Sonder is slated to see its stock symbol, SOND, begin trading on Nasdaq on Wednesday. Sonder and Gores Metropoulos II announced Tuesday that they had close on their special purpose acquisition company merger, the precursor to Sonder becoming a public company.

Google Maps Most Downloaded Travel App

Google Maps was the most-downloaded travel app in 2021, according to Apptopia, but when it came to online travel agency brands, it was that took top honors. Skift.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: airbnb, apps, brian chesky, customer service, Dennis' Online Travel Briefing, digital nomads, expedia, google maps, short-term rentals, Skift Pro Columns, sonder, vrbo

Up Next

Loading next stories