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.
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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.
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