When Travel Stalled, Airbnb Rewound, Leaned Local and Remained Relevant Against All Odds

Adweek's Experiential Brand of the Year emphasized unique, targeted experiences in response to consumers' altered expectations

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The idea of any travel brand counting 2020 as a “winning” year would strike even the most wildly confident marketing executive as absurd.

And yet, for Airbnb, 2020 was successful. Proof of that can be found in the company’s December IPO, which opened at $146, more than double the price it set the day before its market debut.

When Covid-19 hit the U.S. in March 2020, lockdowns became the norm worldwide and the travel industry—which had seen demand grow exponentially since 2014—suddenly seemed all but dead, Airbnb responded directly to the abrupt changes in the way people were defining travel. Flying



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This story first appeared in the June 7, 2021, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.