Airbnb, the online hospitality service, has found that partnerships are a powerful way of building its brand in its core business and when expanding into new categories.

Rachael Haley, Airbnb’s global connections strategy lead, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Digital & Social Media Conference.

“Partnerships are crucial for us, especially because we are outspent by competitors by at least ten to one,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Airbnb picks its partners as ‘ultimate influencers’.)

As Airbnb has looked beyond an initial focus on accommodation into activities like helping users find local experiences in the places they visit or purchase concert tickets, this approach has become even more valuable.

“I think partnerships are really the ultimate influencer. They can provide credibility in areas that we can’t, and they allow us to tell our brand story in a unique way,” Haley said.

One filter that the firm uses when identifying potential allies – a list that has included enterprises like Audi, the automaker, Disney, the entertainment giant, and National Geographic magazine – is ensuring their brand values are consistent.

This is a major consideration for Airbnb, which has been an active, vocal advocate in support of issues like same-sex marriage and social inclusion.

“One big thing we’re always looking at is do their brand values align?” said Haley. “Are they speaking in a way that we feel comfortable to represent with them, to show that we’re partners – companies that also represent a belief in equality and diversity?”

Another priority is for these enterprises to “bring something we can’t to the table”, Haley said. The company, she reported, frequently gets pitches focused on Airbnb’s existing business or travel in general that don’t meet this requirement.

“It’s like, ‘That’s cool, but we can do that ourselves’ ... Don’t bring me a cookie-cutter version that you could present to any hotel brand. I’m never going to buy that,” she said.

“It needs to be the kind of partner that brings something completely unique that you could never do, and you do the same, and then that is where the magic happens.”

Sourced from WARC