How Airbnb's marketing genius started the flywheel

Bambi Francisco Roizen · August 1, 2011 · Short URL:

CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky on listening to users, making Airbnb integrated into the news

The press is having a field day on Airbnb's behalf these days, given the pillaging of one of its customer's homes. While the coverage is deserved (and Airbnb could offer up a better solution and response), it's getting to be a bit overblown, given that the unfortunate incident could have just as likely happened on any other rental site.

But ironically, Airbnb is not one to shy away from being the press. In fact, Airbnb methodically thought to be part of it. When it comes to undesrtanding press, this team knows how to take advantage of its marketing power.

One of the ways Airbnb tapped into the media was to find stories and events in the news that they could somehow be part of.

"We looked for high-profile events," said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, in a recent interview. So, in the summer of 2008, the team focused on the Democratic National Convention and helping to house the many visitors to Denver. By doing so, they were becoming relevant to a significant story. They weren't the news, but they were piggybacking on the news.

How do you leverage the news? Figure out how you can be integrated into the conversation, said Brian.

"All we did, is to become part of the story."

Watch the rest of the interview for more on Brian's views on marketing, the press, and his lessons learned as an entrepreneur.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Joined Vator on is the “Ebay of space.” The online marketplace allows anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and online transactions, for which Airbnb takes a commission. As of June, 2009, the San Francisco-based company has listings in over 1062 cities in 76 countries.


Brian Chesky

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