Why Airbnb switched from “Marketing” to “PR” in the downturn

Intelligent Relations
By Intelligent Relations Team

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Airbnb was impacted badly as the entire world seemed to pump the brakes on travel. The company needed to rethink its marketing spend if it had any chance of returning to its pre-pandemic level of growth.

Recently, amid growing concerns about the future of the economy, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky recounted the company’s successful strategy to rebound from an 80% drop in business to an outstanding Q1 performance.

The company’s secret? Driving brand awareness by shifting from “performance marketing” to public relations.

You may have seen this tweet from Chesky:

“Next, we changed our approach to marketing. When travel stopped, we paused all performance marketing and shifted our focus to PR (there have been 1M+ stories written about Airbnb since then)” @BChesky, May 3, 2022.

Even when the crisis stage of the downturn had largely passed, Airbnb continued to focus on PR and earned media. This helped the company slash its marketing spend and return to pre-pandemic levels of growth.

A 2021 piece in Marketing Week takes a deep dive into the strategy, citing PR as its “most important channel.”

Our AI approach to PR costs about 65% LESS than legacy NY / SF agencies, and can build long term value for your company.

Is it time for your company to try the same pivot? Let’s Connect.