Airbnb’s User Generated Campaign & The Post-Covid Traveler

By Henley Worthen · February 28, 2022

Airbnb’s User Generated Campaign & The Post-Covid Traveler

In February of 2021, Airbnb launched its first global marketing campaign in over 5 years, bringing tears to the eyes of millions during a surging pandemic and lockdown restrictions in place. They did this by utilizing customer-generated content that would trigger feelings of nostalgia and hope for a brighter future.

In Tubular’s latest piece of research, we used data to uncover new types of travel content viewers that have emerged since COVID lockdowns. We explore personal motivations, consumer behaviors, and viewing preferences within each unique mindset. This investigation helps us understand the magic of Airbnb’s global campaign that features ordinary guests like you and me, enjoying time with their loved ones in unique stays across the world.

Made Possible By Hosts


In the campaign kick-off video, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky shared that the vacation rental company originally started conceptualizing the campaign in the ‘traditional’ way: fleshing out a script, hiring directors, paid actors, and high-quality production studios. But considering the state of the world at the end of 2020, they realized it would be too commercial. Chesky says they knew: “what the world needs right now is to feel something real.” The Made Possible by Hosts campaign was born.

The company turned to user-generated content. They asked a handful of people who were great photographers to book an Airbnb with their friends & families and submit the photos to Airbnb. “What we got back was deeply moving.”  These videos tap into a sense of nostalgia, encouraging audiences to think of their own meaningful trips.


The most-viewed video, Forever Young, garnered 7.5M views. The concept is simple — an ordinary group of friends rents out The River House and shares photos of how they spend their time there. The beauty is that it’s imperfect, authentic, and simple. There’s nothing extravagant about the house, the group activities, or their clothing. It feels relatable to everyone.

Looking at these videos through one of the unique mindsets we identified in our latest report, we can see the qualities of The Narrator shining through. The Narrator is a travel enthusiast who posts videos about their experiences to inspire and educate others.

During lockdown, this archetype advanced to play a crucial role in providing hope, inspiration, and connectedness to billions of people stuck in their homes. Content created by Narrators virtually exploded on social video as viewers turned to travel videos to inspire their next trip and bring them comfort. In 2021, there were over 40B views for travel content. For reference, that’s more streams than Drake’s collective portfolio (and he’s the most-streamed artist of all time).

The Narrator’s travel content inspires travel Seekers. The Seekers archetype uses travel content as a means of planning future travel, educating themselves, and feeling connected.

Airbnb strategically used Made Possible by Hosts ads to target both hosts & renters.

From the host’s perspective, you get the sentiment that renting your property is not just a business transaction— it’s a heart transaction. In the same campaign kick-off video, Chesky interviews father-daughter host duo whose Rhode Island rental property is featured in the campaign. When asked about their favorite aspects of hosting, they shared “making people smile.”

For Seekers, who are potential Airbnb renters and viewers of this campaign, they are feeling inspired to travel and find comfort in these videos. Chesky shared that Airbnb’s survey indicated people miss traveling even more than they miss bars, restaurants, and sporting events. In fact, he shared that “just thinking about traveling boosts their happiness.”

We’d have to agree — watching this video makes us pretty happy.

Using Tubular data, we found that audiences with “The Seeker” mindset are one of the most eager-to-purchase segments across any social video category. After over two years of patiently waiting, they are more than ready to book the Airbnb, purchase necessary travel gear, and hit the road. This has created the current ‘travel boom.’

They are likely to purchase gear and book upcoming trips. The Seeker audience makes up a whopping 42% of Peak Design’s online shopping and 24% of Coleman’s. Their primary shopping categories include technology, gear, and educational materials.

Across Social Platforms, the Made Possible by Hosts campaign attracted over 17M global views, while also appearing on live television and other mediums. The company’s keen awareness of the social video landscape helped them achieve cultural relevance by leveraging the emerging traveler mindsets affected by the pandemic. Campaign engagements topped 243K across platforms. Tubular data also uncovered that these videos on Facebook had 10X more engagement in the first 30 days than other content.

Strangers Aren’t That Strange

After almost a year of user-generated content, Airbnb launched a new, produced campaign called Strangers which reverberated similar elements we saw in Made Possible by Hosts. There was the same use of an older, iconic song. It showed clips of guests showing up to their rental and the activities that ensued, however, this campaign had a surprising twist…

The family consisted of three giant shaggy ‘guests’ playing on potential fears of real-life hosts letting strangers into their homes. We see the three guests having morning coffee, playing family games, and watching movies at night. The shaggy little kid is so adorable while it dances around the house. In the same way that Made Possible by Hosts made viewers feel connected to guests in the campaign, this video made viewers fall in love with the shaggy family. In the end, the viewer comes to understand: strangers aren’t that strange.

Today, the heartwarming video has garnered 53.8M views. Part of the campaign initiative to encourage hosts around the world stems from what we’ve identified as The Nomad.

This travel mindset appeared when lockdown presented more remote work opportunities around the world. This travel audience has embraced phenomenons such as #vanlife and digital nomadism. With more people traveling than ever and living nomadically, Airbnb seeks to offer more rental options for longer stays. Airbnb shared that trip lengths have increased by 15% from Q3 2019 to Q3 2021 and more than half were over a week.

In January of 2022, the Strangers campaign helped Airbnb climb top the leaderboard at #1 for US Travel YouTube Creator. Tubular’s analysis of the post-COVID traveler mindset helps us understand how Airbnb achieved cultural relevance by leveraging these unique mindsets. This understanding made their campaigns sticky in the hearts & minds of their global audience.

To learn more about the distinct mindsets within the travel category, read our latest report here: Audience, Shoppers, and Modern Storytellers: How Social Video Influences Consumer Cycles.

If your company is interested in learning about Tubular can help you refine your content strategy, contact us here.

Be ahead of the curve in
the age of video.