New Delhi: Airbnb, the home-sharing company, is riding on the popularity of Bollywood stars to grow its outbound business as an increasing number of Indians are taking international holidays. In its first big India specific campaign the company has brought star couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan who are seen sharing their holiday experience in the UK using Airbnb through a series of ads. While Saif and Kareena are not on social media, Airbnb is leveraging a clutch of other celebrities who are posting about their Airbnb experience on their personal Instagram, Facebook and Twitter handles.
The company, which entered India in 2016 and claims to have over 32,000 listings in the country, said that its outbound travel from India has grown by over 185% in the last year. The big influencer campaign, which is being promoted on television, digital and social media, aims to drive awareness about the concept of home-sharing and bring Airbnb in the consideration set of Indian travellers going on international trips. The company is estimated to be spending ₹ 50 crore on advertising.
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“Indians are passionate about movies and stars have inspired travel. We see more and more travellers wanting to holiday like their favourite stars and put up at places they’ve opted to stay in. Going forward, we feel that influencer marketing will continue to play a critical role in our strategy and we will continue to look at engaging our audience with innovative content," said Amanpreet Bajaj, country manager, Airbnb India.
Airbnb, which launched its global campaign ‘Live There’ in April last year, tweaked its advertising strategy to highlight the experience of big Bollywood celebrities who often post their Airbnb experiences on social media platforms. The home-sharing company has worked with celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Twinkle Khanna, Milind Soman, Shilpa Shetty and Farah Khan Kunder among others who have stayed at Airbnb homes and shared their experiences.
Since 2016, the company said, over a million Indians have travelled to nearly 160 different countries on Airbnb including popular destinations such as France, Italy, the UK and the US.
India’s outbound leisure share of 30% remains significantly lower than the global average of 53% according to a recent report by travel firm Expedia and aviation advisory CAPA India. The findings highlighted major headroom for growth as currently India contributes around 4.8 million outbound trips which are estimated to go up by 13.9 million by 2025. This growth will be driven by millennials with a major contribution coming from tier II and III towns.
Noting that India is home to over 400 million urban millennials who have become a large part of the traveller community today, Bajaj said that they are increasingly seeking unique experiences and adventures in every trip they plan.
“Keeping this in mind the we wanted to target the new age Indian traveller who is keen to infuse local flavour in his/her travel itinerary and also wants to move away from standardized plans," he added.
Calling Airbnb’s marketing strategy smart, Abhishek Malhotra, partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney said that in celebrity driven market like India one can hardly go wrong with such advertising.
“With rising disposable incomes an increasing number of Indians are taking foreign holidays. The campaign will influence professionals between 25 to 40 years of age who do not believe in pre-decided itinerary and are looking to experience local culture of the destination they are visiting," he said.
Shekhar Banerjee, managing partner at GroupM-owned media agency Wavemaker India believes that when it comes to leisure travelling, India has very distinct consumer segments.
“What I call the ‘Social Trippers’ draw their own plans and take a lot of inspiration from social media and influencers. They are likely to be next lever of growth for Airbnb after the ‘discerning wanderers’ looking for a unique cultural experiences. We have seen celebrities have much higher return on investment on brand measures, so we should expect the same for Airbnb," he said.