Beyond the booked: Discovering new potential customers for Airbnb through strategic research
May 31st, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Beyond the booked: Discovering new potential customers for Airbnb through strategic research

For home-sharing giant Airbnb, identifying new customers among individuals who have yet to book a stay can present an exciting path for growth.

In this analysis, we look at Airbnb’s potential customers in the UK to see how they differ from the brand’s current customers. Specifically, we’re going to look at people who meet the following criteria:

  • Plan to travel in 2023
  • Are aware of the brand but have never been a customer of Airbnb
  • Hold a positive or neutral view of the brand

This article delves into key areas of consumer research such as demographic makeup and media engagement as well as brand/destination tracking to highlight potential avenues for Airbnb to expand its business into this customer base.

Understanding demographic differences

Demographics play a pivotal role in shaping consumer behaviour, preferences and decision-making. By looking at the demographic makeup of a company’s potential customers and how they stand out from its existing customers, brands can tailor marketing campaigns and messaging to the unique needs and desires of these segments.

According to data from YouGov Profiles — an audience intelligence platform covering demographic, psychographic and behavioural data — we see that Airbnb’s potential customers are predominately made of older consumers. Specifically, they over-index for being aged 45 and over and under-index for being younger than the age of 44 when compared to the brand’s existing customers.

They’re also more likely to be men (56% vs. 52% of Airbnb customers), people dwelling in rural areas (13% vs. 10%) and those living in a household with combined lower (26% vs. 17%) or middle incomes (46% vs. 36%).

Examining where these consumers are in terms of life stages reveals that Airbnb’s potential customers are more likely to be “active empty nesters” — that is, people who older than 45 and live without children at home while still being actively employed (26% vs. 17%).

Deciphering media engagement

Understanding the media consumption habits of potential customers is crucial for businesses to refine their marketing efforts. In the case of Airbnb, YouGov data shows that the segment of potential customers we’ve been discussing is more inclined towards traditional forms of media and less engaged with certain digital platforms.

Airbnb potential customers show a higher likelihood of reading national newspapers on a weekly basis, both in print (43% vs. 15% of current customers) and online formats (34% vs. 24%).

Additionally, potential customers demonstrate a higher propensity for watching commercial (69% vs. 50%) and non-commercial TV (72% vs. 59%).

Digging deeper into specific TV channels reveals that Airbnb potential customers are significantly more likely to be heavy users (i.e., they watch 10 or more hours a week) of live TV channels such as BBC (15% vs. 11%), ITV (14% vs. 9%), Sky (8% vs. 4%), Channel 4 (8% vs. 2%) and Channel 5 (6% vs. 2%).

By contrast, we see potential customers under-indexing in their engagement with certain digital media channels. These include listening to podcasts (20% vs. 31%), browsing other types of media websites (35% vs. 23%), listening to commercial radio (21% vs. 36%) and watching commercial online TV (12% vs. 27%) to name a few.

It is worth noting that there are no significant differences in media consumption when it comes to reading print/online magazines or following social media channels.

All of this suggests that unlocking new growth opportunities for Airbnb will likely not be achieved by going about advertising and marketing in the same manner that it took to win over its existing customers. Instead, it indicates that Airbnb will likely have to create a comprehensive media mix that caters to the distinct preferences of both existing and potential customers.

Exploring preferred destinations and booking intent

Most travellers will choose their accommodation once they decide on a destination, highlighting the importance of having a clear picture of the types of locations that potential customers are inclined to visit.

The latest data from YouGov DestinationIndex, which measures daily consumer perceptions toward travel destinations worldwide, reveals that Airbnb’s potential customers are most likely to be considering European destinations for their next holiday. The top ranked destination in the eyes of consumers is Italy (30% of consumers would consider travelling here on their next holiday), followed by Portugal (27%), Spain (26%), Ireland (20%) and Iceland (18%).

A few of the top ranked destinations in North America include the US at 15%, with New York (14%), California (12%) and Hawaii (11%) being the most considered states within the country. However, it‘s Canada that gets the highest consideration rate among Airbnb’s potential customers with 17% saying they would consider a holiday to the country.

In APAC, Japan (13%), Australia (12%), Singapore (8%) and India (6%) earn the highest rate of consideration among this group. As for destinations in MENA, Airbnb potential customers are most likely to be considering Egypt (7%) and Dubai (6%).

Learn more about how demand for travel demand shifted among affluent consumers between the beginning of the year and spring 2023.

Further data from YouGov sheds light on Airbnb’s potential customers’ booking and holiday plans. The insights reveal interesting patterns and these insights can help guide Airbnb’s marketing and promotional strategies.

For instance, when it comes to when potential customers intend to go on holiday in 2023, it’s clear that summer months such as August (19% intend to go on holiday this month), July (16%) and June (15%) are the most popular.

But when it comes to when this segment will plan to book their holidays this year, it is evident that there is a more even distribution.. The data shows that August once again stands out, with 11% of potential customers saying intend to book their holidays during this month, followed by July (8%) and June (7%).

But there are other notable months throughout the year for both holiday intent and booking intent. May, for instance, demonstrates a substantial share of potential customers intending to go on holiday (12%; likely due to the number of bank holidays during the month) as well as planning to book (9%). September also stands out in this regard, with 11% of potential customers planning to go on holiday and 6% planning to book.

Consumer research offers a powerful tool for Airbnb to identify and target new customers and further cement its position as a leader in the home-sharing industry. By looking at demographic differences, travel intent, preferred destinations and how this group engage withs media, Airbnb can refine its marketing strategies with data-driven decisions to encourage potential customers to book their first stay with the platform.

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Photo by Maciek Wróblewski on Unsplash