What We’ve Learned from the Airbnb ‘Live There’ Campaign

AUTHOR: Derse  /  January 5, 2017

CATEGORY: EventsExhibitsPurposeful CreativeStrategy

Airbnb released Trips, a new service on their platforms that allows customers to purchase more than just lodging, but experience packages such as salsa dancing or Surfing & Sunsets. The new addition is in concert with their global campaign, ‘Live There,’ and has inspired Airbnb to increase the level of experiential marketing in their overall strategy. In an interview with Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall, he describes wanting to “redefine what the world sees as experiential marketing.”

Promoting products, services or events to prospects without interacting with them in-person creates obstacles companies must consider in their marketing strategy. For complete customer immersion, Airbnb promotes an experience to clients before they even make it to their lodging. For example, the company has begun to preview experiences with short trailers and use Facebook Live to feature trips in major cities like Cape Town and Florence. By using customized promotional videos prior to the actual customer experience or event, Airbnb is able to develop relationships and engage prospects in the core idea of their product.

Source: Airbnb promotional trailer

Although separate from the trade show industry, we can take a few lessons from Airbnb’s new movement. Throughout the interview, Mildenhall shares some insights on what makes experiential marketing most effective:

  • Special, emotional, cultural potential – Airbnb realized how commoditized the travel industry has become. In order to stick out, they are appealing to customer nostalgia and the thrill of adventure. In parallel with the trade show industry, it’s easy for brands to fall into the trap of using flashy signage or cliché messaging to grab attention. However, the crux of your engagement should be authentic to your brand. Create meaningful, honest moments that will have social significance to your target audience.
  • Surprise and excitement – Airbnb used Facebook Live to follow real hosts and real customers on their travels. This live experience piqued curiosity and made people feel part of the adventure. Evoking these type of emotions in your experiential marketing engagement, whether through social media or face-to-face, results in recall and retention.
  • Daily relevance – Right now people only go to Airbnb once every six months when they need a place to stay, but the brand strives to become a daily app where people go to find experiences. As with trade shows, you only have one interaction. However, don’t underestimate the power of that one interaction. As you engage with attendees, you are planting seeds and generating leads that you will nurture along the purchasing path. Ensure that your engagement represents your holistic services and your value as a long-term partner.


Experiential marketing is about including your audience as part of your brand story. As you plan your face-to-face marketing strategy, consider how to weave them into your story at every touch point before, during and after the show.

How Face-to-Face Marketing Strikes the Balance between Functional and Emotional Selling
The Rise of Snapchat and Why it Matters for Face-to-Face Marketing
The Proof Behind the Impact of Experiential Marketing



  • Airbnb
  • digital marketing
  • experiential marketing
  • social media



BIO:Derse is a complete face-to-face marketing agency and exhibit builder with more than 450 employees and six full-service divisions. Ranked as a Top 10 Experiential/Event Marketing Agency by Advertising Age and B2B Top Shop by Chief Marketer, Derse brings a smarter wins approach to exhibits, events and environments for client programs in more than 50 countries.