Friday, 1 September 2017

Airbnb and The Age of Co-Creation

As the poster child of the share-economy, Airbnb is expanding its offering by pushing the boundaries of the service industry through creativity, collaboration and innovation. This strategic approach makes Airbnb a prime example of how businesses today can seize opportunities to create more value for customers.

MoM students, at the University of Sydney, might remember how last semester in Internal Marketing, with Pennie Frow, we explored the benefits of co-creation. You can probably answer these next questions, but for the others, you might be wondering - what is co-creation? And how is it changing the landscape of contemporary business?

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is essentially an interactive and mutually beneficial process of resource sharing and innovation with an enhanced stakeholder - or customer market focus. Companies with a holistic approach to employing these processes internally are able to foster an environment of collaboration; opening a realm of possibilities for not only firms, but the different customer markets of the company.

In this day and age, the change of focus from products to services has ushered in a new, innovative approach to service design practices, ultimately becoming the principle way of working.

The peer-to-peer accommodation platform, Airbnb, recognises that partnering with other high profile organisations presents the opportunity for enhanced value creation. These strategic alliances mobilise an otherwise passive audience into active co-producers and presents countless opportunities to capitalise on the creative potential of stakeholders by engaging them through participation.

To give you a better idea of how exactly they are achieving this, let’s take a look at some examples.

Airbnb & Sweden's Tourism Campaign.

Let’s go back to May earlier this year, when Sweden listed the whole country on Airbnb. Do you remember that? The official tourism board of the country, Visit Sweden, partnered with Airbnb to co-design an online video ad for the campaign. The partnership, which was the first of its kind for Airbnb, introduced viewers to the nation’s Right to Roam Act, which allows people full access to walk, cycle and camp on the nation’s public land for free.

James McClure, general manager Northern Europe at Airbnb explained, “It is designed to promote Sweden as a destination through the power of the Airbnb community which is perfectly placed to showcase the many extraordinary locations to stay throughout the country.”

Mercedes Benz relationship experience design. 

As a consumer favourite in its own right, Airbnb is further increasing its reach and disrupting the hotel and accommodation industry by building high-profile partnerships with big brands such as Mercedes-Benz.

At the beginning of August, 2017, to promote its new Marco Polo Activity van via the #MarcoPoloActivity social push, Mercedes-Benz Vans gave Airbnb users the chance to spend a night in the brand new Marco Polo Activity van on Cockatoo Island. The five-to seven-seater van has a roof that pops up and back seats that fold down for sleeping.

Ikea & Airbnb's sleepover campaign. 

Ikea’s partnership with Airbnb, saw them co-create a campaign, to promote Ikea bedroom solutions, by hosting three families overnight in its Tempe, Sydney store. The campaign, won its agencies a Webby Award in the social/events category, involved turning the store into a bed and breakfast that included three bedrooms, a communal dining area and a kids’ play room.

With a media spend of literally zero, branded content and advertising agency, The Monkeys, along with PR agency, Mango, co-designed the campaign for Ikea, which reached a PR audience of nearly 800 million.

Fly There, Live There collaboration with Qantas. 

This world-first partnership offered Australian travellers the chance to earn Qantas frequent flyer points when they booked stay their Airbnb via Delivered in the form of a series of videos, the promotional clips featured Qantas flight attendants explaining the features of various Airbnb accommodation listings in the style of an in-flight safety demonstration, as well as ‘fly there. live there’ campaign material.

In recognising the different touchpoints within the customer journey, both Qantas and Airbnb were able to come together and embrace a modern consumption model. Recognising that customers were just as likely to arrange an Airbnb as they were to book a hotel, Qantas and Airbnb took the opportunity to reward their customers. “The way that people around the world plan, book and experience travel is changing rapidly with the digital revolution,” says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Airbnb has identified and capitalised on the rapidly growing trends of customers seeking personalised experiences, experiential marketing, and the incorporation of digital technologies. CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky highlights Airbnb’s ability to offer unique experiences - something which could only be described as a dynamic capability.

In the near future, the company will undergo some fundamental changes as they expand their offering and react to changes in the marketing environment. In adding experiences and much more to the platform, it will be exciting to see how Airbnb will continue to use innovation and co-creation to stay ahead of the game.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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