Daily Insights

Airbnb’s Summer of Sports Marketing

By: Mackenzie Baker | Jul 20, 2020

Airbnb is hosting a five-day festival dedicated to the Summer Olympics, kicking off on July 24—the day the games would have officially begun pre-pandemic. The festival features events with 100 Olympic and Paralympic athletes who will walk viewers through their sports and what a typical training day entails. For example, tennis star Naomi Osaka will give fans a behind-the-scenes look at her lessons while triathlete Jonny Brownlee will take fans on a scenic ride as he trains. In addition to training videos, Airbnb users can also partake in digital classes to get to know the athletes beyond their sports. Viewers can watch videos from athletes around the world including track star Allyson Felix and Syrian refugee turned Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini on topics including resilience, training and motherhood, and cooking lessons. 

Along with introducing viewers to athletes from around the world, Airbnb is offering virtual Japanese experiences to nurture interest in the Olympic games host country. Users can sign up for local experiences such as learning the secrets to creating Sake, a rice-based alcohol popular in Japan, or taking a tour of the historic Shibuya area of Tokyo. Proceeds from the campaign are going to the athletes involved, many of whom have faced a loss of sponsorships or endorsements following the games’ postponement. While many of the programs will only be available on the Airbnb website and app, a select number of videos will be free to watch on the travel company’s YouTube channel. The campaign is running through Airbnb Experiences, the brand’s dedicated sector for travel adventures which has seen exponential growth as more travelers look to incorporate experiences into their trips, according to a Gartner report. As in-person adventures have halted during the pandemic, Aribnb can now use its Olympic festival to further grow its digital experiences for guests around the world. 

Airbnb is one of the few brands continuing its Olympic marketing campaign despite the games being pushed back a year. While companies including NBC have paused their large-scale plans, big-name advertisers such as Visa are continuing their promotions but on a smaller scale than originally planned. Like Visa, Airbnb adjusted its Olympic campaign to fit the times by now marketing its activities as lighthearted distractions for consumers amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Launching the campaign a year before the official start of the games gives Airbnb users a chance to get to know some of the Olympic athletes and more of a reason to cheer them on in 2021. Making the festival a completely digital affair also gives fans an in-depth look at the games and the host country’s culture from the comfort of their own homes, keeping athletes and viewers safe during the ongoing pandemic. 

Airbnb is bringing sports entertainment home to viewers in place of the postponed Summer Olympic games. Rather than cancelling its pre-planned campaign, Airbnb is using its push to build up anticipation with sports fans, which could keep both the athletes and the travel brand top of mind with consumers.