Airbnb’s ‘scrappy’ video approach sees bookings hit one million

Airbnb.com, the accommodation listing and rental site, has booked more than 1 million nights having started using video just under a year ago. 


The start-up, which was founded in 2008, began using video in the spring of 2010 when it had booked just 200,000 nights. After just 9 months of posting video, the site broke the one million nights booked mark at an average of just under 3,000 nights each day.


Lead marketing manager Christopher Lukezic attributed much of this success to the way it has used video as a cost-effective way to distribute through social media.


He said: “What we found with video is it is the easiest way to tell a story and it is the one that people will actually watch and engage with.


“We could write blog posts and feature people in a written format but it is not nearly as engaging as video. We have managed to be pretty scrappy in a lot of ways with our video and content production.” 


This “scrappy” aproach has seen the company to produce more than 70 videos to help promote cities and rental properties around the world.


It has been able to do nearly all this with a single camera and a two person team. The video was then distributed via social media, further reducing costs.


Lukezic said this technique allowed Airbnb to engage its customers in a very targeted way, without the high costs of traditional media advertising.


“I think it was just an experiment early on,” Lukezic said.  “We saw video as an emerging form of media that we could produce on an affordable level and I think we saw social media as a way to distribute that video in an affordable manner as well.


“We did not have to pay to run ad spots and we didn’t have to pay to really get that content out there. It was a big experiment and we were all really surprised with the quality of videos we could make in house.”


While the video started out as an exercise in advertising and marketing, Airbnb has expanded it to help the company with scaling.


It is currently using the video to recruit new talent as well as producing more content for consumers. This helped it grow revenue by 65% month on month in January alone. The company plans to continue making videos and growing its user base.


Nathan Blecharczyk, chief technical officer and co-founder of Airbnb, said: “In 2011 we will continue to focus on making the site more accessible to anyone looking to host or rent a space practically anywhere on the planet.”

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