Customer experience

5 marketing lessons real estate professionals could ‘steal’ from Airbnb

- September 15, 2022 5 MIN READ
luxurious airbnb living room apartment

Effective real estate marketing should not be boring. There are several innovative strategies that you can steal from more prominent brands like Airbnb to engage with your target audiences effectively, writes marketing expert, Nick Brogden.

Airbnb was launched in 2008 and soon became one of the top online platforms for vacation rentals and homestays.

Founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia started Airbnb with just a few airbeds and an ‘Air Bed and Breakfast website’. The company went from 1,400 guests on new year’s eve in 2009 to over four million bookings in 2019.

Airbnb stats graph 2009-2019


Being a real estate company, what strategy did Airbnb apply to reach phenomenal growth in a short time? Well, in this article, I’m going to share the top five marketing lessons that you can steal from Airbnb to boost the growth of your real estate business.

Lesson 1: Use better quality images to capture customer attention

Airbnb does a great job of adding high-quality images to its website. A bigger photo is always better. Airbnb asks guests to share pictures having 1024 x 683px resolution.

Here is an example of how a property image looks in an Airbnb listing:

Airbnb property listing example


Besides this, the pictures are taken during the day, and every image is displayed in the landscape format because vertical photos don’t showcase the space well. Adding high-quality images offers several advantages:

  • Visitors spend more time on the website.
  • The bounce rate is reduced, and you maximise your chances of conversions.
  • People share pictures from your website on social channels like Pinterest leading to more visibility of your property listing.
  • SEO (search engine optimisation) is enhanced since quality images improve user experience (UX), and better UX leads to higher organic rankings.
  • Pictures tell a story, and stories help to sell better.

Lesson 2: Leverage the power of five-star reviews

Who doesn’t like their business to be rated five stars? Earning positive reviews is not easy. There is a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

Airbnb makes every effort to ensure a pleasant stay. For instance, welcome beers, chocolates on the bed, and fruits on the bowl are some ways to make the guests feel special. When you do something extraordinary for your customers, they remember you as a brand and leave a positive review as a gesture of appreciation.

Airbnb reviews example


As a real estate agency, you should keep your customers happy by offering them exceptional customer service.

Ensure all calls get answered promptly and remain proactive on social media to communicate with your followers.

Also, avoid nagging your customers to add positive reviews. They will add them when they feel like doing so. You have to awaken that feeling in the hearts of your customers. Do something special for them, and you will soon attract five-star reviews for your business. Reviews will invite more sales at a higher price.

Lesson 3: Measure your marketing investment

You won’t grow as a business if you don’t measure your marketing channel performance. Airbnb has an expert team of data scientists and marketing analysts to test the performance of its marketing campaigns.

It is crucial to measure your marketing investment to identify the channels generating the highest returns on investment.

Besides, you can get essential data to optimise your business’ online performance. For instance, you can measure which ads are performing best to adjust your budget accordingly and acquire more customers.

Moreover, you can find content pieces acquiring the highest links and engagement to prepare more articles like them. This way, you can save time and capitalise your efforts on doing things that impact the bottom line of your business.

ROI measurement is essential to take the guesswork out of making future marketing decisions, and it also helps determine the profitability of an expenditure.

Lesson 4: Use data to drive profitable business decisions

During the pandemic, Airbnb saw an increase in local reservations. So it quickly adjusted its algorithm to display more local listings to the travellers.

Therefore, Airbnb is wise to adapt to the customers’ changing needs and uses data to improve the users’ experiences, leading to more business profitability.

As a real estate business, you should track the happenings on your website and use the data to improve the user experience. Here are some things you can do:

  • Track the keywords visitors are searching on your website. This will give you an idea of the information they are looking for. You can manage your listings and property details accordingly.
  • Identify the locations that drive the most people to your site. You can revise your content and navigation accordingly.
  • Use tracking tools like Hotjar to understand how users navigate your website. You can place your call to action at the best positions that give you the maximum chances of conversions.
  • Personalise your website content for every user to improve the time spent on the site and increase the number of sales.

Lesson 5: Use referral programs

Another excellent marketing lesson from Airbnb is how they used referral programs to promote their services. They started with a standard referral program that offered $25 travel credits for every referral who booked a place, and $75 for every referral who rented out their space.

Every metric was studied carefully, like the conversion rate for every new user or guest, invitees per visitor, the device used to read email invites, and the monthly active users sending invites.

Based on the data, Airbnb crafted a new referral experience. The new referral program was built simultaneously for the web, Android and iOs. They also provided users with an easily shareable link that helped to import friends from Gmail and sent a customised invitation to every contact.

Airbnb invite example


Airbnb also ensured that the invitation appeared as a gift, not a sales gimmick. The strategy worked when people started receiving gifts in their inboxes.

Airbnb invite gift example


You can also replicate a similar referral strategy to elevate your real estate business growth. Use your existing contacts lists to start engagingly reaching more people. Make sure your referral program looks not like a promotion, but a gift.

Final thoughts

Your real estate marketing strategy should be based on customer emotions. Stay true to your brand values and leverage data to understand customer behaviour. Make every effort to improve the user experience and use your customers’ contacts to grow your business.

Real estate marketing is challenging, but the marketing lessons from Airbnb can make it easier for you.

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