Airbnb is the first to acknowledge that achieving momentum takes time. After all, the company was founded in 2008 and it was three years later that they celebrated one million nights booked in early 2011.
But a further three years down the track, Airbnb now operates in 190 countries with over one million listings worldwide and has a valuation of around $13 billion.
In the early years, Airbnb’s founders were like any other startup. They were doing the hard yards and manually recruiting customers to their service.
Normally, the key to scaling is around automation. But Airbnb has proven that is not always the case. The practice of doing things that don’t scale has not only underpinned the business model, but is a key driver behind the company’s explosive growth.
Paul Jeszenszky, the Director of Online Marketing and Media at Airbnb leads the organisations online marketing and media buying efforts. His sole aim is to accelerate the adoption of the sharing market.
“We’re working hard to push the limits of digital marketing,” he explained. “The goal is to shape Airbnb into a community-driven super brand. One that fulfills the quest to bring people together.”
But like any business challenging the status quo, getting people to understand Airbnb’s value proposition and renting their room, apartment, house to a stranger is no easy feat.
The team is focused on their company goals of increasing brand awareness and the number of nights booked, but they also are conscious of re-engaging customers to maintain their retention rate.
It’s not all about existing customers
“We still focus on the top of the funnel,” said Jeszenszky. “We continually work to help people understand our value proposition and encourage them to take the first step”.
Airbnb has already served over more than 30 million customers, and in 2015 they're averaging more than a million a month. So, the hockey-stick growth curve continues.
Jeszenszky has been here before. He’s worked at eBay and Google, companies well known for their aggressive and highly successful growth trajectories.
“Taking an organization from this size to the next level is going to take a very specific strategy,” he continued. “Every business, no matter its size is seeking growth. We need to build on our success to date to become a powerhouse brand. Growth marketing requires the right team culture, product market fit, doing the right accounting and understanding the outcomes of tactics.”
Paul Jeszenszky will be in Australia this week to speak exclusively at Interactive Minds breakfast events on March 4 in Brisbane and May 5 in Melbourne.