With over half a million listings in 190 countries, Airbnb has practically become the market leader for travel accommodation. It's miles ahead of the competition when it comes to blending the affordable with the unique.

Airbnb’s rise has been meteoric and much of it is down to its unconventional yet inspirationally innovative marketing strategies. It's not due to bloated marketing budgets, but a result of hard work, ingenuity and a lot of panache.

6 Airbnb marketing strategies to learn from:

When it comes to marketing, there is much to learn from Airbnb.

  1. Brand partnerships
  2. Airbnb has shown us countless times that partnering can provide some serious exposure and generate a lot of buzz. Successful Airbnb partnerships include KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, UK bookstore chain Waterstones and even the French government. Trop cool!

    Think what customers of each brand would love and find something that appeals to both. The brand crossover has to offer something unique, something you can only offer together.

    For example, with KLM a contest was created where the winners could spend a free night in a luxury ‘Airplane Apartment’. With the French government it was a night in the Paris Catacombs at Halloween, which helped raise the profile of a lesser-appreciated French tourist spot.

  3. Influencers
  4. Any event you host or product launch you hold make sure you invite as many social influencers as possible. Invite journalists, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters and Instagram stars to your events – you’ll be surprised at the results.

    In 2015, Airbnb hosted a ‘floating house’ publicity stunt on the Thames River in London with a variety of related events including a #FloatingHouseParty where attendees were encouraged to live stream, take pictures and splash the night all over social media.

    The resultant coverage was insane! 340 press pieces in the UK alone, which translated into over 70,000 page hits, 10,000 new users, and more than 200 million social impressions!

    Airbnb also leverage the impact of celebrity stays. This strategy began in 2015, when Mariah Carey posted this photo on Instagram.

    Taking a break from #1toinfinity #beachtime @airbnb, before my concert in Israel.

    A post shared by Mariah Carey (@mariahcarey) on

    Since then, Airbnb has partnered with a number of celebrities – picking up the tab for their stay in return for some social media love.

  5. Take risks
  6. Lots of brands enjoy a little friendly Twitter banter and PR fails are great opportunities for going viral with a good burn. But sometimes things go viral for the wrong reasons, like the time a guy locked in a bookshop was trending.

    However, what could have been a PR nightmare for the bookshop quickly turned into positive press for Waterstones and Airbnb. Airbnb weren’t afraid of looking cheesy or getting bad press for jumping on a bandwagon. They saw an opportunity and made something happen. The lesson is: don’t be afraid of the bandwagon because you might just end up driving it.

  7. Quality imagery
  8. Airbnb appreciate the importance of high quality imagery and that’s why they offer all of their hosts free professional photography to maintain consistency across their media.

    They even spend more money on production than promotion because they understand that better quality content will always get more engagement. Travel lovers use Airbnb because they feel inspired by what they see in the beautiful pictures on the Airbnb website.

  9. Build a community
  10. Airbnb is more than a P2P accommodation provider; it’s a community. They’ve built their community by creating trust between users. They encourage regular communication, detailed profiles and strong reviews. The engagement is phenomenal.

    Creating a community has also simplified the booking process. Users must create their profile when they first sign up but after that it’s as simple as entering their payment details.

    This one step process is miles ahead of anything offered by conventional hoteliers and part of the reason people keep coming back to Airbnb. It offers high quality accommodation in the best locations, at reasonable prices, available to book in a few clicks.

    It is also the authenticity of the experience that makes Airbnb such a successful community. Hosts go out of their way to make their home their guests’ home with detailed local knowledge of the best eateries, transport links and hidden gems.

  11. Iconic
  12. The real success of Airbnb is that it has transcended mere brand and have become a lifestyle. Everything they do is to create that special moment when their guest says: “Wow, this is so much better than hotel.” It is in that moment they create a customer for life.