In February 2022, Airbnb launched a commercial called Baecation, made of a slideshow of still photos featuring a lovely old couple to the tune of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “03′ Bonnie & Clyde”. This commercial was part of a large campaign, but it proved so successful that Airbnb promoted it on TV channels and social media worldwide well into summer 2022.
Yet, this commercial went above and beyond Airbnb’s expectations, becoming a viral hit on Tiktok: Dozens of couples shot their own versions of the Airbnb ad, using the same song and adding photo stills of their own trips. Airbnb says these videos have generated more than 1,000,000 impressions of people remaking the ad with this older couple. This is free branding for Airbnb, especially as TikTok users inserted hashtags such as #airbnbcouple and #airbnbad.
This success is a testament to the power of Airbnb’s marketing team to tap into the zeitgeist. All commercials are conceptualized internally by Airbnb employees. Then photographers are commissioned to follow people on a real trip and take shots that will be used in the commercial.
While the older couple captures the imagination of TikTok users ready to re-enact the commercial with their own love story, the new commercials may lack the same virality. They are more about an experience in a vacation home than about a beautiful human story that everyone wants to be part of.
Original Bonnie & Clyde Airbnb ad
TikTok videos where users created their own version of the ad
Airbnb’s new commercials promoting Airbnb Categories
Airbnb Categories is a recently released product feature available in its app and website. It allows users to discover unique listings they would probably not have discovered otherwise. Airbnb has grouped 4 million out of its 6 million listings into 56 new categories of unique homes, such as Amazing Views, OMG!, and Castles (see below the complete list of Airbnb Categories).
Ads to drive the awareness and adoption of a product feature: Airbnb Categories
The goal of these commercials is to get Airbnb users to discover and start using the Airbnb Categories feature. The idea is that, by using Airbnb Categories, travelers discover inventory, destinations, and inventory types they never thought Airbnb had. It is not a short-term play: Airbnb’s marketing team wants people to play with Airbnb Categories, have a memorable experience discovering cool places, and then, hopefully, remember to use Airbnb next time they are booking a trip.
In other words, Airbnb knows that its users think of it as a place where millennials can book an apartment for two in a big city. By getting people to use Airbnb Categories an inventory discovery tool, the company wants to attract other use cases, such as other generation groups (Gen Z and boomers) staying outside of big cities.
New Airbnb Categories ads
On August 29, 2022, Airbnb released three new commercials for Airbnb Categories. Once again, three of the most visually appealing categories are featured: Amazing Pools, OMG!, and Design.
Each ad not only illustrates a specific Airbnb Category but also tries to feature a different user segment and a destination outside of big cities.
- The Mashed Potato Time ad features an African-American parent and her child at a farm stay
- The Fantastic Voyage commercial targets families (3 kids are featured) and evoked the reopening to tourism of Bali, the largest vacation rental market in South-East Asia
- The Oh Yeah commercial features a group of friends at a house in South Tyrol, Italy.
While Airbnb’s ads do not still feature huge family groups like Vrbo ads, the idea is to make watchers perceive that Airbnb is not just to book a city getaway for two anymore. The choice of the destinations featured is key, as the company claims that one of the goals of Airbnb Categories is to “help alleviate over-tourism by redistributing travel to new locations beyond the same popular destinations.”
Mashed Potato Time | OMG!
Recycled from the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Tour, this 6-ton potato has traveled on the back of a semi to (48) states for seven years. Now resting on 400 acres of good ol’ Idaho farmland, just south of downtown Boise, this hotel has been meticulously designed by Kristie Wolfe, a former Big Idaho Potato Tour spokesperson, to allow for stylish private comfort and amenities such as power outlets for your electronic devices, a mini fridge, old records to play and a custom-built bed.
Keewah and her daughter left the big city of Chicago for a stay in the big country, in a big potato to be exact. And in Idaho, where potatoes are famous, it was a perfectly natural place to stay. The OMG! Category was summed up in their reaction upon first seeing the giant above-ground tuber. There was even a cow named Dolly who lived on the property and loved to eat glazed donuts, really. It provided the perfect cozy stay for these best spuds.
Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp
Big Idaho Potato Hotel
Boise, Idaho, United States
Oh Yeah | Design
The Mirror Houses are a pair of vacation homes, set in the marvellous surroundings of the South Tyrolean Dolomites, amidst a beautiful scenery of apple trees, just outside the city of Bolzano.
The Mirror houses offer a unique chance to spend a beautiful vacation surrounded by contemporary architecture of the highest standards and the most astonishing Landscape and beauty nature has to offer.
After a long year of hard work, Gianni and his friends were looking for a place to reflect. They found all that and more in Sabina’s “Mirror House” near the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy. Designed by Peter Pichler Architecture, the Mirror House was built with a mirrored glass facade in order to enhance the impressive views of the surrounding mountain range. For a few days, the friends relaxed by the pool, played lawn games and occasionally got lost in their own reflection.
Oh Yeah by Yello
Mirror House North
Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige / South Tyrol, Italy
Fantastic Voyage | Amazing Pools
A remarkable 4 bedrooms home perched on the Ayung River valley in a spectacular pristine setting. Echo House is the latest achievement of Ibuku, and part of a bamboo village, famously known in Bali for its architecture, design, and sustainable living. The Airbnb commercial heavily features the villa’s swimming pool and its spectacular private water slide.
The Choo family was on a mission: to spend the last days of summer having nothing but fun. So what better place to do that than Wayan’s Echo House in the Balinese rainforest? The bamboo home had everything they could want – sustainable design, views of the winding Ayung River and most importantly, an amazing pool with an even more amazing water slide.
Fantastic Voyage by Coolio
Echo House 4 bds Eco Bamboo House Pool River View
Kecamatan Abiansemal, Bali, Indonesia
Airbnb Categories for hosts
Airbnb Categories help guests discover new properties and new destinations. So, they can bring more views for some wonderful Airbnb listings. Yet, hosts have no say in which categories their property will belong to.
All active listings are analyzed using machine learning to determine if the listing fits in one (or more) of the categories. This algorithm looks at things like the listing’s title, description, pictures and photo captions, amenities, reviews, and structured data from host profiles.
Hosts cannot choose or edit the categories themselves, though making sure all listing details are up-to-date and having pictures of high quality that show the key features they want to highlight does increase their chances of being included in a certain category.
Here’s how Airbnb presents the feature:
Airbnb Categories (makes) it easy to discover millions of unique homes you never knew existed. When you open Airbnb, you’re presented with 56 categories that organise homes based on their style, location, or proximity to a travel activity. When you search for a destination, your search results are also organised by categories that are relevant to that destination. As you view different categories, the map intelligently zooms to show you where the homes are located. The 56 Airbnb Categories include more than 4 million unique homes that are made possible by our Hosts all around the world. Airbnb Categories organise homes by what makes them unique, which helps people discover places they wouldn’t have otherwise found. This can help alleviate over-tourism by redistributing travel to new locations beyond the same popular destinations.
Here’s the list of the 56 Airbnb categories:
- Bed & breakfasts
- Shared homes
- Tiny homes
- National parks
- Amazing pools
- Earth homes
- Amazing views
- Historical homes
- Iconic cities
- Cycladic homes
- Chef’s kitchens
- Casas particulares
- Shepherd’s huts
- Grand pianos
- Creative spaces
If you are an Airbnb host and want to improve your visibility within Airbnb Categories, check out our article and video: “How to optimize your listings for the Airbnb Categories update”.