I am not sure that the founders of Airbnb would have imagined that in the span of a decade they would have gone from renting out three air mattresses in their San Fransisco apartment to becoming a TOP Olympic sponsor. But here they are with a long-term deal with one of the largest sports properties in the world, kicking off with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

This partnership makes sense on so many levels. 

We stayed at an Airbnb in Notting Hill for the London 2012 Olympics and it was a critical part of our amazing experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of a booklet from Airbnb which shared multiple recommendations and tips on how best to enjoy the neighbourhood. Restaurants, pubs, shopping, subway stops, attractions. All helpful, but what really caught my eye was the communication of pop-up events curated by Airbnb during the Games. These events were effectively socials for people staying at Airbnb rentals during the Olympics

It struck me as quite profound that Airbnb understood the power of creating community even though their business was effectively the opposite. Think about it. The entire concept is to disperse tourists across a city, whereas hotels are about collecting people. Yet, hotels rarely strive to create community. When was the last time when you checked-in to a hotel and you were invited to a happy hour to meet your temporary neighbours? 

A unique part of the new Airbnb IOC relationship is the opportunity for former Olympians to sell experiences during the Olympic Games. This an amazing extension to their Experiences Platform where hosts provide local attractions from dining to bingo lessons. I love it. Imagine booking an apartment for the Tokyo Olympics and it comes complete with a sailing lesson or a jog with a former Olympic Marathoner?  

Earlier this week I presented the Opening Keynote at XLIVE where I talked about Experiences Driven Business. I shared a list of outcomes that consumers undergo from experiences. 

For example, a great experience impacts you by:

  1. Forging Your Identity
  2. Elevating Your Status
  3. Solving Your Pain
  4. Granting You Equity
  5. Enhancing Your Mood

Let’s look at how these outcomes will be present with the new Airbnb and IOC deal:

  1. You will forever have the badge of having attended the Olympics. 
  2. Your inner-Olympian will be satisfied by whatever athlete experience you choose.
  3. As I can tell you in planning SponsorshipX Tokyo, accommodations are a major issue, and Airbnb serves as an excellent solution. 
  4. We talk a lot about access over ownership, but consumers don’t want just access. They want a little share, a little sense of ownership which can be felt with temporarily owning your Airbnb.
  5. Studies have shown that when consumers are taken out of their normal environments the opportunity to increase their happiness is greatly enhanced. There’s no question the Tokyo Olympics will do that. 

Most importantly about this deal is that you can now book your trip to the Tokyo Olympics without worrying about winding up sleeping on an air mattress. Unless you want to be!