Epic Airbnb Open Event Redefines ‘Festivalization’
Inspired by the storytelling of Sundance, the world-class innovations of TED, and the awe of Burning Man, the 2017 Grand Ex winner curated an annual festival of travel and hospitality designed to become a must-attend cultural event. Part developers conference, part user group, part internal event, part consumer activation, part street fair, part influencer event—the genius of what Airbnb Open became was that by definition, it could not be defined in traditional event marketing vernacular.
More than 20,000 people from 100 countries came. Taking place Nov. 17-19, Airbnb Open 2016 turned an entire downtown into a connected brand experience—using the sum of Los Angeles’ parts as something greater than any single venue could ever provide. The festival came to life across a whopping 17 primary venues and dozens of others in downtown L.A. Over three days, there were 55 sessions featuring Airbnb experts and third-party thought-leaders, keynotes and panels focused on such topics as how to be a successful hostrepreneur, discovering passion through innovation and creativity, inspirational travel adventures from around the globe, providing extraordinary hospitality, improving the guest experience plus new products, services and features from Airbnb.
There were organic content hubs featuring hosts, with seven downtown bars and restaurants converted into “Conversation Spaces,” themed idea exchange venues at which hosts and Airbnb employees presented to attendees on a range of topics including making Airbnb listings stand out, creating five-star experiences, building local communities and making the most of new Airbnb tools and features. Throughout it all, content machines were in full gear, with Airbnb capturing content and redistributing it online. The best part? The attendees themselves became the ultimate global content ambassadors, beaming key insights, ideas and learnings back to the 100-plus countries they came from.
There were also more than 150 hyper-local city-wide excursions and meet-ups never scaled to this level by an event, as L.A. Airbnb hosts and restaurants across the city opened their doors for explorations, neighborhood tours and community dinners. And there were special events, including a Saturday night Bélo Awards, which recognized the best and brightest from the Airbnb community, produced at the Orpheum Theater and hosted by late-night host James Corden.
Not only did attendance quadruple, but the business grew. Host and guest sentiment blew through the 92 percent mark and intent to book and host increased. Content from Airbnb Open was amplified by 29 million views, and an additional two million hosts and 70,000 guests watched the stream of the opening keynote live. Earned impressions hit 80 million and more than 2,000 media hits were generated.