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Airbnb launches new global marketing strategy geared around experiences

By Doyinsola Oladipo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Airbnb announced its newest marketing strategy geared towards bringing in new customers by offering unique experiences as it expands beyond its core business of vacation rentals, the company said on Wednesday.

The San Francisco-based company's newest category called "Icons" features 11 global experiences - including concerts and celebrity meet and greets - for free or under $100 to try to attract a larger audience.

"Icons is a compelling new way to do marketing...and help shift the brand to be more than just a place to stay and create space to offer new products and services," CEO Brian Chesky told Reuters, adding that they have reallocated a portion of its marketing budget towards the campaign.

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Shares of the company fell 1.5% to close at $156.

The company's television ads were over 200% more effective in driving consumer engagement before the pandemic in 2019, according to the television data and analytics company EDO. Now, Airbnb is getting creative in how it plans to drive new customers to its platform as it focuses on re-branding.

The available experiences include a tiny concert by singer Doja Cat or staying in a replica of the home from Disney/Pixar animation "Up". Airbnb said it will continue to roll out new experiences every few weeks.

Chesky has previously said he wants to make the Airbnb guest experience more reliable to get more habitual hotel guests to book accommodations on the platform instead.

Airbnb's nights and experiences booked in 2023 increased about 14% year-over-year compared to 31% the year prior. Its full-year revenue rose 18% in 2023, compared with a 40% increase in 2022.

The company's sales and marketing expenses in 2023 increased 16%.

The short-term rental company is launching icons as consumer engagement with its television advertisements slowly recovers from the pandemic.

Airbnb's TV ads in the third quarter of 2019 were more effective at driving online engagement than over the subsequent four years, according to television data and analytics company EDO.

The company's TV ad engagement has improved over the past three quarters and is expected to fully recover this quarter, however, EDO said.

The company said more than 4,000 tickets for icons will be available in 2024 with plans to expand the category's offerings over the next few years so that millions of people can participate.

(Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)