Airbnb and Vice Media enter into millennial-minded marriage

It's a match made in millennial heaven. Last week, Airbnb announced that it was entering into a partnership with Vice Media to offer custom-made travel packages through Airbnb's "Experiences," a program launched last year to more fully subsume travelers within a particular destination. 

For anyone who watches Vice, or has used Airbnb for travel, the team-up makes absolute sense, and yet is another way alternative accommodations, in this case home-sharing, are finding ways to extend its business model beyond traditional means. 

Vice is a digital-media organization with a focus on content targeted especially toward a younger demographic. It also has exposure on cable via a 30-minute program Friday nights on HBO that is executive produced by Bill Maher.

Virtual Event

Hotel Optimization Part 3 | January 27, 2021

With 2020 behind us and widespread vaccine distribution on the horizon, the second half of the new year is looking up, but for Q1 (and most likely well into Q2) we’re very much still in the thick of what has undeniably been the lowest point of the pandemic. What can you be doing now to power through and set yourself up for a prosperous 2021 and beyond? Join us at Part 3 of Hotel Optimization – A Virtual Event on January 27 from 10am – 1:05pm ET for expert panels focused on getting you back to profitability.


And while the organization has been around for more than a decade, only in recent time has it made its move into the zeitgeist, having become even more prominent of late in the bedlam and aftermath of Charlottesville, Va., with this video

According to The Wall Street Journal, the partnership will launch with a contest in which 100 people will receive one of four customized tours in South Africa, Paris, New York and Tokyo for free.

Financially, the partnership is unorthodox. Profits will be kept 100 percent by Airbnb, while Vice will reportedly receive advertising spending from Airbnb, which will in turn market its “Experiences” offerings and other products.

“This is something a bit different than a typical ad relationship, in that we are both putting in money and time to develop the offerings,” Spencer Baim, Vice’s chief strategy officer, told The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve done a ton of research on this and given that we are in 80 countries, our ability to send viewers on incredible trips seems pretty endless.”

Airbnb offers 2,500 experience packages in 35 cities. “The experiences side of our business appeals more to a younger, more exploratory, more innovative human mindset and that seems like it would fit well with Vice’s core audience,” Jonathan Mildenhall, Airbnb’s chief marketing officer, also told The Wall Street Journal.

Collaborative marketing is nothing new, but is gaining more and more momentum. Broken down, it's the process of aligning your company’s interests with other like-minded companies to accomplish more than you could otherwise do on your own.

In this case, Airbnb is tapping into a media company with a huge following of Airbnb-targeted travelers. To be sure, the legion of Vice fans likely have tried Airbnb, but a partnership like this reinforces a sense of coolness and comradeship between two brands that its loyal followers will appreciate.

This brand partnership is another case of alike brands teaming up. Traditional hotel companies have long done the same, but partnering with a media company is relatively new. Up to now, hotel companies have traditionally aligned themselves with products, not content. And not traditionally in an advertising co-op manner. Hilton, for instance, has a partnership with Uber.

Marriott International is one outlier. Last year, Marriott's lifestyle brands announced a partnership with media brand Fast Company, a move made, as it said at the time, to "continue to strive to break new ground in shaping memorable and enriching experiential travel for millennial-minded individuals." 

Hilton has a similar arrangement with Live Nation.

Brands will continue to seek out partnerships with like-minded brands to generate not only more business, but more exposure to more people. As brands and tastes evolve, expect more brands and companies to seek out relationships beyond the traditional.