Case Study

Airbnb and Isentia work together for success

Think global, act local and feel at home.

The challenge

With almost 2 million room listings in 190 countries, Airbnb has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings in a San Francisco living room nearly 10 years ago. But as the room-letting company continues to disrupt the travel world, its success comes with the threat of diminishing its raison d’etre – the experience to travel like a local, in a personal way.

Airbnb’s strategic positioning for their lodging inventory is to “Belong Anywhere”. By focusing on local travel experiences, shared friendships between hosts and guests, and providing unique stories, travellers can live up to the brand promise of “people, place, love”.

Airbnb partnered with Isentia to continue offering a localised and adaptive brand experience, while maintaining its global corporate brand strategy.

Hence, Airbnb had these objectives to address at a regional level:

  1. How do travellers perceive our brand across different markets?
  2. Do travellers trust us?
  3. What are our brand strengths and weaknesses?
  4. How does the customer journey map out across various markets?
  5. How is Airbnb performing versus our competitors?

Equipped with these answers, Airbnb will apply Isentia’s insights to adapt its overall marketing strategy, communications and content across their respective markets.

Our approach

The first stage of research is to source, collect and filter relevant data. Based on defined objectives, Isentia crafted an in-depth listening framework with an extensive keyword iteration list. Using our listening tool we collected data in two phases:

Customised crawling of specific websites

We built API crawlers to pull data across thousands of channels across major platforms such as Facebook, Blogs, Forums, Instagram, Twitter, Websites and Online News. This is an essential component of the research process as it helps ensures that the data is collected across all travel-relevant platforms, making the study more relevant and targeted for Airbnb.

Validation of data

Isentia used (a) automated Natural Language Processing and (b) Human Validation of sample data to achieve a 95 per cent confidence of data accuracy. This is crucial in data hygiene as the automated sentiment analysis utilised by most social listening tools cannot, detect or recognise local slangs, sarcasm, various grammatical nuances and culture variations. Hence, the accuracy level at which social listening tools are able to accurately pinpoint or determine the prevailing sentiment of a discussed topic is probably likely to be only at 30% – 50%. With human validation of a sample size, Isentia helps ensure a higher accuracy of data sampling for the study.

For this research, Isentia leveraged social and digital data from 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015, which are seasonally high travel peaks and hence, when travel-related conversations will likely to be most prominent. From there, key metrics of analysis were derived at a regional scale for the identified target markets.

Isentia’s brand audit helped Airbnb accomplish the following:

  • Ascertain their social media maturity to date, current brand experience and mindshare across various markets
  • Uncover consumer behaviour and insights that would help Airbnb better understand its brand positioning and how they can create content (content planning and execution) that would resonate better with their audience
  • Establish the tangible aspects, with regards to the customer journey, so that they could capitalise on and optimise the necessary resources required for more enhanced marketing and communications strategy
Examples of key metrics of analysis derived at a regional scale for the identified markets
  • Social Media Performance
    Isentia aggregated social data across key measurements, such as volume, sentiment, channel reach and penetration in order to benchmark the online performance of Airbnb across different markets.
  • Competitive Analysis
    By aggregating travel-related data across social media channels, we were able to uncover Airbnb’s Share of Voice (SOV) and top competitors across each market based on volume of competitor brand mentions and sentiment analysis.
  • Top Channels and Penetration
    Based on the volume of social data across the markets, we were able to identify the top channels and channels breakdown for each country and how netizens engaged on the top platforms.
  • Brand Experience Attribute Tracker
    Based on identified brand attributes (as indicated by Airbnb’s brand guideline), we manually tagged relevant online posts (organic responses on social media) to the respective attributes and mapped them across different markets.
  • Brand Funnel/Customer Journey analysis
    This was done by manually tagging the online posts relevant to each stage of the customer journey or brand funnel before mapping it out across the various markets.
Isentia helped us understand our digital equity and brand experience across all markets with a consistent form of measurement. With the brand audit, we were able gauge our existing brand equity across APAC and identify opportunities to capture a greater share of the audience. The audit served as a great resource for our marketing efforts and communications planning.

Based on the brand audit report, the findings were able to help achieve the following:

Regional Social Media Performance
The positioning map provides Airbnb with an indicative sensing of how they have performed across the region and what aspects to focus on for improvement.

Competitive Analysis

This was crucial not only in uncovering top competitors but also the key sentiment drivers for various brands and hence better understanding best practices and how they can compete more effectively against their competitors.

Top Channels and Penetration
This allowed Airbnb to be able to understand consumer behaviour across online platforms, how they can prioritise their media outreach, campaign execution and better leverage on the platforms for optimal engagement.

Regional Brand Experience Attribute Tracker

The analysis revealed that the Airbnb brand is experienced quite differently across the region with fragmented associations. Through this, Airbnb were able to identify the specific attributes that have the least resonance with the brand across the various markets and tweaked their communications accordingly.

Regional Brand Funnel Analysis
The analysis helped Airbnb understand the maturity of different markets and the extent to which they are exposed to and receptive of the brand. From there, Airbnb was able to better prioritise and strategise their marketing outreach efforts across all markets


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