Airbnb names global creative partner, outlines Asia plans

Airbnb has appointed independent agency Wieden+Kennedy as its global creative agency, following a pitch which included DDB. The review for the global creative account was called in May this year where incumbent TBWA\Chiat|Day LA, which held the account since 2014, was not invited to take part in the pitch.

According to Airbnb, part of the remit challenged the winning agency to collaborate in a progressive manner with Airbnb’s in-house creative team. Going forward, Airbnb and Wieden+Kennedy will collaborate on a new product launch due this fall. In the coming months, the agency will also work with Airbnb on campaigns for next year’s travel season campaign.

Marketing has reached out to Airbnb and Wieden+Kennedy for comment on how work will be implemented in the APAC market, following the global appointment.

“I am delighted to confirm Wieden+Kennedy as our global agency of record after what was the most closely contested pitch of my career. Both Wieden+Kennedy and DDB developed outstanding thinking but W+K's creative work has shown us a very compelling community voice that we know will take our creative output on to the next level," Jonathan Mildenhall, global CMO for Airbnb, said.

“From day one, it's been clear to us through every interaction that Airbnb is a values-driven company that cares deeply about its mission and ethos. In this respect, Airbnb and W+K are natural partners. We are a company that lives its values which are centered on people, creativity, and daring to do things that have never been done before. We are inspired because we believe that 21st-century brands are judged by what they do and the value they create for people," global CCO for Wieden+Kennedy, Colleen DeCourcy, said.

In a separate conversation with Marketing, Airbnb's country manager of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong & Taiwan, Robin Kwok, said Asia Pacific is the company's fastest growing region in terms of inbound travel year-over-year, with 14.6 million travellers in 2016 and a 177% growth for Asia alone, compared to last year. As such, the region is no doubt of importance for the brand.

She added that Airbnb has steadily been gaining popularity recently among travelers in the region and Kwok attributes the success of Airbnb to localisation strategies - especially in the areas of marketing campaigns, payment methods and translation.

"Every country is different and we want to help tell that authentic local story," she said. She explained that Airbnb still sees Southeast Asia as an opportunity because of its "unique hospitality" in different markets. In addition to language and payment localisation, the company has also turned its attention to the changing priorities and adapted its offerings to cater to its wide range of users. However, Airbnb declined to comment further on its marketing tactics in the region.

The company's Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia headquarters are located in Singapore. It named Teneo Strategy to manage its PR duties in Southeast Asia and the agency is responsible for building Airbnb's brand across the region, as well as raising awareness about the economic, cultural and social benefits of home-sharing to consumers and policymakers

China’s importance

Meanwhile, on a broader regional level, China is also an important area for Airbnb to conquer. According to its 2016 report, 93% of Millennials surveyed in China said "travel is an important part of who I am as a person", and if given RMB100,000, 44% of Chinese Millennials would prioritise the money for travel over buying a home (13%). To emphasise its commitment to success in China, Airbnb launched a localised brand name in March known as "Aibiying", which translates to "Welcome each other with love".

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Kwok also cited the launch of Trips - Airbnb's mobile app that provided users access to personal itineraries, including upcoming Airbnb rentals, events and city guides - as an example of how the company conducted research to provide consumers with ways to improve and personalise their travel experiences.

The app has launched over 1,800 Experiences such as excursions by local hosts in more than 30 cities worldwide, including Singapore, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. Kwok added that Airbnb has seen a recent spike in guests trying out Experiences in Asia Pacific, where the number of booked experiences has grown over 14 times since January 2017.