Airbnb’s Global Connections Strategy Lead on How the Brand Leverages Influencers

May 10, 2018

By Molly Knol

With both agency and client-side marketing experience behind her, Rachael Haley knows the challenges and opportunities of digital marketing for a creative company. The current global connections strategy lead at Airbnb, Haley runs content marketing and influencer strategy for the innovative brand. Ahead of her presentation at the 2018 ANA Digital & Social Media Conference, we caught up with her to discuss how Airbnb is disrupting the hotel landscape and using influencer and content marketing to fuel rapid growth.


Why does Airbnb use influencers and content marketing to showcase the brand?

Influencers really help us show off the uniqueness of Airbnb and the lifestyle aspect of our brand. You immerse yourself in a city and a neighborhood when you stay with Airbnb and it isn't a cookie-cutter travel experience. Our brand identity is about enabling people to live like a local. You can really rent these amazing properties and if that lifestyle can be authentically associated with staying at an Airbnb, that is a win for us.


How did your influencer marketing evolve?

We really started organically with Mariah Carey in 2015 — not a bad way to begin! She posted about her Airbnb property on Instagram and was the first major celebrity we worked with in that way. More recently, we did a sponsored post with Lady Gaga, who stayed at an amazing Airbnb property during the 2017 Super Bowl — and shared a single post about it with her more than 24 million followers that garnered over 500,000 likes and 4,000 comments. It was then picked up by news outlets that drove the reach even further.



Thank you @airbnb for the gift of the gorgeous home in Houston for #SB51

A post shared by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) onFeb 6, 2017 at 7:01am PST


Why do you look for in an influencer?

Reach and fit. The impact is incredible because people are already following the lifestyle of these influencers. Our audience really is everyone, so that is who we want to reach. Compared to other brands, we don't do a large number of sponsored posts every year, but we are thoughtful about the effect of the ones that we do sponsor.


What content is Airbnb using to push the envelope?

We recently developed a print magazine, which is pretty extraordinary in today's digital world! We wanted to capture the vibrancy of our community. Then we use data to drive our content marketing decisions. Havana was on the cover because we know that it is an incredibly popular destination for us. Since Savannah, Ga., is also a top search destination so we did a piece on barbecue recommendations from a Savannah barbecue pitmaster.

We really want to own the end-to-end travel experience. With Airbnb Experiences, our community can see a different side to a destination through unique, handcrafted activities run by locals. We also have a partnership with Resy, which offers access to the best local restaurants. And naturally, we do all of this with our signature beautiful and easy-to-use UX. We even have a flight-booking tool in the works, so stay tuned.


Learn more about how Airbnb is innovating influencer and content marketing at Rachael Haley's session at the ANA Digital & Social Media Conference, July 25–27, at The Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Rachael will be joined by top marketers and digital leaders from companies like General Motors, Under Armour, T-Mobile, IBM, Mastercard and more.


Molly Knol is a senior manager of committees and conferences at the ANA.

comments (1)

Danielle Roberts

October 10, 2018 8:30pm ET

Love the print magazine idea! That will great for hosts to leave inside their homes -- I imagine the design will be beautiful, like all of Airbnb's materials.

I wonder if Airbnb has any ideas to help Airbnb owners promote their rentals individually? Our community over at would definitely appreciate some creative strategies!

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