Friday, November 14, 2014

Converting the Customer - Airbnb - you rock.



Note - This post was written a few months ago for a marketing class. I thought it was worth sharing with a larger audience.  Thanks a million @airbnb and @FourSeasons for making me love you even more and making my colleagues really happy.


I'm not slouch when it comes to social media. I understand the power of the voice of the consumer and how marketing is used to make me want something now or change my behavior for the long run. Sometimes I think social media marketing and outreach is a little like dating - or stalking.  There is a little flirting, then some digging and then a call to action - a proposition.  You are at the mercy of your target.  She may spurn you if you don't get your act together.

June 2013, we went to Hawaii for a few days.  On the way through Honolulu,  I started a conversation with the resort's social media person (we follow each other on Twitter) about National Donut Day.  We bantered back and forth about the lack of donut shops on the island and how sad it would be not to celebrate this event.  Fast forward, three hours and we're sitting by the pool, waiting for lunch and and what should appear with my wrap - a plate of donuts.

The resort's social media manager arranged to make my Donut day.  Yes, I did tweet about it.

Later that month, I engaged in an hour long travel chat on Twitter.  Airbnb asked me what would get me to leave a resort to stay in an Airbnb property. I  replied (jokingly) that until they offered me donut delivery at the pool, it wasn't going to happen.

The following week, I was summoned to our reception area. Two dozen donuts had been delivered to me by @airbnb with a note to the effect - "We can't offer you pool side donuts, but we can bring deliver them to you at your desk" -  Regards,  your friends at Airbnb

Airbnb identified me as someone to convert from a resort going travel savvy consumer to someone who might be willing to try out their service.  They had someone from their Marketing department seek me out on LinkedIn, find out where I was working and to arrange to have two boxes of donuts delivered to my office. Did it impress? Certainly. Did they convert me? Well, not quite.  I downloaded the app and searched for apartments for a few stays I had planned overseas, but have yet to pull the trigger on booking a reservation.  Do I think that if I had a problem with a Airbnb property, I would feel like they are listening? Sure. They went the extra step.

In both cases, the resort and Airbnb, they both went out of their way to flirt (engage), dig a little deeper (look at my profile, my habits, my position), and act in an attempt to win me over with a call to action that took some effort and creativity. Social marketing seems easy to some, but in other cases, it really is about going that extra mile.

2 comments:

Mari Adams said...

i would say airbnb is a mixed bag. As much as I loved staying in an SF apt that reminded my of my salad days - having to deal with someone else's toiletries in the bathroom and stuff in the closet was kind of creepy. I will say that my hostess was a delight. I like VBRO - an actual vacay rental, rather than a hipster income fluffer

Brenda said...

I'm with Mari. I love VRBO. They used to be a mix of staying in someone's actual space and vacation rentals but are more and more just vacation rentals. I've been checking AirBnB more often, though, for areas where VRBO doesn't have many options. It seems they also now have at least some actual short rentals, not just spare bedrooms.