Joyce Lam
Joyce is a Trends Analyst at Mintel, focusing on capturing consumer behaviour for the Greater China market, as well as supporting the global Mintel Trends team to identify new consumer trends.

Would you like to stay on the ocean research vessel used for the Planet Earth: Blue Planet II documentary? The lucky winners of an Airbnb-BBC America competition have the chance to spend time on it in the Bahamas this spring.

While on board, guests can discover more about ocean life, both through the stories of the expedition crew and by using one of the research team’s submersibles. To enter the competition (now closed), participants needed to submit a 50- to 550-character response describing what they dream about exploring beneath the waves.

Something a little unexpected

Airbnb is no stranger to expanding its business into new categories and demographics in search of new opportunities, as well as to intrigue consumers. We have already seen how the platform is working with WeWork to make it easier for travellers to find work spaces in cities around the US. Customers can also use the Airbnb app to make restaurant reservations and book local tours and activities. This is likely to resonate with the 20%* of UK consumers who regard the ability to book activities as an incentive to book a holiday rental property, according to research by Mintel.

Airbnb is also giving consumers an opportunity to stay in surprising locations, such as a castle or a house built from LEGO bricks. Its expansion strategy is tapping into consumers’ travel needs, which are becoming more and more diversified. People are looking for new and special things to do, see and explore, and more niche types of accommodation are becoming increasingly popular. Consumers are booking more non-traditional homes, with nature lodges (+700%), ryokans (+600%) and yurts (+155%) seeing the most growth, according to Airbnb’s 2018 Travel Trends based on booking data for the first half of 2018

By offering a stay on the ocean research vessel, Airbnb is able to grab consumers’ attention with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as well as show off the company’s creativity. In an era where all brands are having to fight for consumers’ attention, campaigns like this will be able to stand out, intrigue consumers and raise brand awareness.

*Of surveyed consumers who have stayed in a holiday rental property in the last 3 years