Airbnb unveils “Made Possible by Hosts” campaign

Worldwide: Airbnb has announced the launch of its “Made Possible by Hosts” global advertising campaign aimed to expand its community and attract more hosts back to its platform, many of whom were left disillusioned by the company’s handling of refunds in the early stages of the pandemic.

The campaign is expected to run throughout the peak holiday season this summer, by which time the rollout of vaccinations may well allow for at least some aspects of travel to return, albeit with potential restrictions remaining in place to counter new infection surges.

CEO Brian Chesky said the digital campaign would be shown from 22 February in “almost every country” on YouTube [owned by Google] and social media, as well as on TV channels in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and France. The adverts will feature guest photographers staying in short-term rentals around the world, and will also include music by modern-day singers such as “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns ‘N Roses.

The move is widely seen to be Airbnb’s attempt at regaining its standing with its four million-strong host community, after it refunded guests who were no longer able to make trips due to Covid-19-enforced lockdowns and left hosts struggling financially.

Chesky added that the purpose of the campaign was to aid the shift from mass travel to more “meaningful” travel, whereby travellers will focus more heavily on the guests they are spending time with and the activities available to them, rather than the destination itself.

His direct appeal to hosts was a clear indication that the “Made Possible by Hosts” campaign is aimed at soothing their strained relationship in 2021 and beyond.

Chesky said: “Airbnb the brand is mainstream, but hosting is not yet. The world doesn’t fully understand what you do, what you make possible, but we want to show them.”

Guests too have been left frustrated by Airbnb’s reported refusal to refund travellers around the world who booked getaways after 14 March last year. The platform ruled that government-enforced lockdowns and tier restrictions did not fall within the company’s “extenuating circumstances” policy which it implemented in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Travellers around the world claimed to have been left short-changed after believing they would be entitled to refunds for cancelled reservations. However, despite Airbnb promising “coverage for Covid-19 to help protect our community and provide peace of mind”, hosts are only liable to pay out if they include a refund clause in their terms and conditions.