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Today HomeAway released a rather funny and awkward commercial making AirBnB look creepier than the Bates Hotel in the movie Psycho!

In the video, HomeAway highlights the darkside of “the sharing economy.” It’s a bit scary the way they’ve presented the sharing of accommodations, but that’s exactly what they were going for.

So why am I sharing this? (no pun intended)

Well I want to keep you in the loop of what’s happening with HomeAway and Airbnb, but what I really want to do in this blog post is show you what effective vacation rental marketing looks like and what the marketing tips I’ve written about look like when implemented.

This way you can better understand how it all falls into place so you can create extraordinary content for your own vacation rental business.

In their video ad, HomeAway is using the 3 e’s of marketing that I teach about here. 

Can you see how they are using these 3 e’s?

These 3 e’s camouflage ads, making them look less like ads and more like interesting content that people actually want to consume and share with someone else.

Just think… if it weren’t interesting, I wouldn’t be writing about it and sharing it with you. This is the same thing you want your content and blogs to do.

You want it to be consumed and shared. That’s why you have to embrace the 3 e’s in your vacation rental marketing strategy.

I believe HomeAway has done a brilliant job with this video.

The first thing they are doing right is making people think by proposing the question “why share it?” in the title of the campaign.

Why should you share your vacation with strangers?

It’s a thought-provoking question, and question formats are extremely powerful for marketing and sales material. A question requires a response from you. It makes you think and it opens you up to be receptive to information.

This is step one to convincing people.

The second thing they are doing right is keeping people interested. 45% Of Viewers Will Stop Watching A Video After 1 Minute. This ad is perfectly timed at 60 seconds, making this content more shareable.

In the ad, HomeAway educates people about problems that could occur with sharing personal spaces.

It shows various possible scenarios that can happen when sharing a home with a stranger. For instance, we see a family watching TV while their host (a rather grungy guy) is clipping his toenails right next to them.

They also show a lady gagging as she reaches for a hairy bar of soap… yuck!

We’ve been talking a lot about brands and as an industry, we are beginning to understand the importance of developing a vacation rental brand.

In a recent blog about creating a vacation rental brand with hospitality expert Eric Mason, I shared that you need to find your competition’s achilles heal and expose it to the world.

This creates differentiators with your rental brand and separates you from the others in your space.

I also used this strategy in a post where I point out the ten biggest problems with my competitors.

This is exactly what HomeAway is doing with AirBnB by pointing out their flaws and weaknesses.

And they do this while making it very entertaining.

Humor is one of the best tools used in marketing, and this ad does a great job of incorporating it to entertain viewers. 

But while humor is very effective for your vacation rental marketing plan, it does come with some warnings.

Know your audience and what would be considered appropriate to them.

For example. the last video HomeAway did was meant to be funny but resulted in a public apology because in the video the actors threw a baby against a clear glass wall and this really upset some people.

You can see how not to use humor in their last video.

How are you feeling after watching the video ad? What did you think after viewing the scene of the guy watching the couple as they sleep?

I personally think this was the most fearful scenario, and I think that scene is going to make some people think twice before booking AirBnB. What about you?

The ad does an excellent job of instilling fear among viewers, which is exactly what they intended.

We all can learn a lot and take away some great insight when taking a close look at this HomeAway ad and why it works.

What do think? Please share your comments below.


  • Larry Meyer says:

    I don’t get the ad, it would be wasted on me. I always assumed, on Airbnb that I was renting a persons apartment or home, not sharing it with someone else. It sure looks like that when you browse on line for a place to stay. So i would never get what the ad was referring to.

    And the baby getting slammed against the glass, well again, the whole ad makes no sense to me!

    Blessings and sunny days,
    Larry Meyer

  • Debi says:

    What a silly ad! The millions of folks who have used Airbnb will just laugh or be offended that Homeaway would stoop to such depths. This will do HA more harm than good.

    • Jay William says:

      Hi Debi. nice to hear a different side. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think its very silly too but thats why I think its gonna work for them. Either way people are now talking about this because its controversial which is giving their brand more visibility. and their character Captain Obvious commercials are liked because the content is amusing/entertaining. I don’t think it matters so much if its true or not, because people were entertained I think it will get a little bit of mind-share. What will it do to the AirBnB brand? Not so sure yet, maybe nothing with a one off ad but If they continue with this type of ad approach, could it penetrate a layer of consumers?

  • Blamona says:

    While it’s extreme, it’s kinda hitting were it should, AirBnB offers shared rooms (you never know who you’re going to get) while Homeaway concentrates on whole villas (and as long as you don’t know who you get, who cares if you’re not there) I found it rather clever

  • Anyone who has looked at AirBnB will know that they do offer whole homes not just shared homes, the people who want a whole home are catered for and if the news is right are going to expand that market too. Not just the traditional homes that are marketed on other sites too.
    Those who have no idea who AirBnB will think it is getting at hotels as you have to share facilities and most of the scenarios fit in with staying in a hotel, apart from the guy doing his toenails and watching them sleep.
    Just shows that HA is worried by the newcomers in the market as well as their more traditional competition. Should we be looking to advertise on AirBnB?

  • GringoWasi says:

    It is funny, but is centering on only
    one aspect of Airbnb, and as mentioned by Moorgatevilla, many of
    their examples seem to be more directed at a hotel environment,
    especially the pool and bar clips.

    I think if they are
    targeting Airbnb with this add then they completely missed the mark
    as it just appears to be too general to me. It is a good add to
    stress the advantages of renting a whole property over a shared one
    or even a hotel, but with just a slight tweak this add would do just
    as well for Airbnb as they do offer not only full house rentals, but
    also full apartment rentals and even B&B’s and other “regular

    I think people that are not familiar
    with Airbnb may see it as only a property sharing site, but I think
    it offers a lot more than just space sharing and I not only have my
    B&B listed on Airbnb, but have also used it many times myself
    when traveling.

    • Jay William says:

      The funny thing is that many vacation rental owners have rentals in communities with these types of ‘shared facilities’ but it doesnt seem that HomeAway is worried one bit about offending vacation rental owners who own these apartments and condos. I mean come on… You know they had to consider that it could be offensive to certain owners, but still they went for the – shock and awe campaign.

      It’d be interesting to see if they do a follow up to this, sharing bashing. It could prove an effective strategy for them. Maybe just because its memorable (funny).

  • Anca says:

    The ad is good, no doubt about it. But who are they targeting? Do they really think people who afford a villa will search for a room in a shared flat on Airbnb? I think it is rather attracting people towards renting a Vacation Rental as opposed to staying at hotels. And this will benefit the whole industry.

    • Jay William says:

      Hi Anca, I do believe it will benefit the vacation rental industry as a whole. What HomeAway is doing here is, flinging dung.

      I think they are tageting everyone and anyone, hotels and sharing sites like AirBnB

  • Steve Sherlock says:

    yeah creative and clear positioning for the traditional vacation rental market. Though I’ve rented the “whole property” 10+ times this year and never once via HomeAway – always via Airbnb. Hence they also seem to be positioning themselves out of my consideration set for the “urban vacation rental” property!

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