From Tom Dixon-designed water tower conversions in West London to tiny house campgrounds in Portland, online peer-to-peer lodging platform Airbnb has certainly never run short on left field listings that adventurous yet discerning (discerningly adventurous?) travelers can rent as an alternative to crashing on a friend’s couch for three nights or booking an overpriced bed in a soulless business hotel.
Now, following a coming out party of sorts in the Los Angeles market that involved celebrity-designed prefab pop-ups installed in hip neighborhoods (and a heavily trafficked Hollywood cemetery), the sharing economy’s answer to Hotels.com is showcasing its 50 most exceptional and unconventional listings as part of a national ad campaign. A campaign of this scope is a first for the five-year-old San Francisco-based hospitality company that currently lists a half million properties operated by 350,000 hosts in 192 countries across the world.
The gimmick is, the super-eclectic assortment of said listings — they range from a rustic scout shack in the wilds of Norway to a charming bungalow in Asheville, S.C. — are being showcased as birdhouses in a short film and on a microsite called Birdbnb.com.
The tagline of the $2 million campaign? “Every Traveler Deserves a Home.”
While the short film and the bird metaphors may be a bit too precious for some — “Our hospitality is completely individual and designed by our hosts who know that making people (or birds!) feel at home any where in the world comes from warmth, intuition and an attention to detail,” Airbnb Chief Marketing Officer Amy Curtis-McIntire said in a statement — the avian-friendly architectural replicas themselves are truly stunning.
Created by a team headed by artist Joshua Stricklin and that also included an ornithologist, a birdhouse specialist, and a miniature expert, the 50 birdhouses are featured in the 5-minute promotional film “Home To You.” An abbreviated 2-minute version of the film will be shown in select urban and suburban movie theaters across the country and during the Travel Channel’s upcoming show “Mysteries at the Museum,” according to the New York Times.
In addition to the theater and TV spots, banner advertisements featured on a handful of design- and travel-oriented websites will direct readers to the Birdbnb microsite while print ads will run in AFAR magazine. The aim of the Pereira & O’Dell-headed campaign is to increase awareness of the brand as it continues to rapidly grow in existing markets (Paris, Barcelona, San Francisco, and, New York City are the largest) and, ahem, take flight into new ones.
As for those 50 beautiful birdhouses, in addition to being displayed online alongside their rentable, non-Lilliputian counterparts which include a lighthouse, a tipi, a yurt, a watchtower, a windmill, a converted firehouse, a 15th century feudal castle in Ireland, and a handful of caravan wagons (personally, I’d take the chalet in Lake Tahoe any day), you can also view these one-of-a-kind creations up close and personal (well, kind of) as they dangle from a magnificent giant oak tree on Bird Island in New Orleans’ Audubon Park now through Dec. 22.
And while listings from all sorts of hip travel hotspots — Austin, San Francisco, Provence, and Iceland are among the locations that appear more than once — are represented in birdhouse form, New York City is notably absent no doubt due to Airbnb's ongoing legal battles with city officials (the listing for a lovely Hudson Valley farmhouse made the cut, however) over short-term renter's rights.
Or maybe it's simply because a one-bedroom, fifth floor walk-up in the East 20s just doesn't translate as well to birdhouse-dom as, let's say, an adorable clapboard shack on Martha's Vineyard or a "mushroom dome cabin" outside of Santa Cruz.
Have a favorite birdhouse and corresponding Airbnb listing?
Related stories on MNN:
- Big-hearted accommodations: Airbnb does disaster housing
- How the sharing economy has worked for me
- Google Maps birdhouses provide shelter, navigational aid for winged travelers
- The seedy underbelly: 2013 edition
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