Case Studies
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New York Road Runners, Airbnb

21 Marketing brokered a deal with Airbnb on behalf of New York Road Runners in 2014.

The article below from New York Business Journal discusses how Airbnb activated on the 2015 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Accommodation website Airbnb.com will activate on its partnership with the New York Road Runners this week as it takes over title sponsorship of the NYRR’s half marathon on Saturday, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half.

In 2014, the company signed a deal with the NYRR to become a foundation level partner of the TCS New York City Marathon and title sponsor of the half marathon. Sources valued the deal, which runs through 2017, in the seven-figure range annually.

The deal marked Airbnb’s first sports title sponsorship, but company executives say they see future opportunities in running and other endurance sports. The company recently signed a deal with the International Olympic Committee to provide 20,000 rooms at the 2016 Rio Games.

“We are always exploring ways to leverage large events, and we want to work with the sports community,” saidAndrea La Mesa, Airbnb’s regional director for North America. “We can see in our data that there are [user] spikes in the market around sports events.”

Airbnb allows its users to rent out their homes and apartments to other users on a short-term basis. The company launched in conjunction with the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and La Mesa said that large, participation-driven events have played a major role in growing its customer base.

Airbnb claims a network of 35 million users.

“Runners travel to different cities for races — it’s a very international community,” La Mesa said. “The marathon has [runners] from over 100 countries.”

John Gassner, NYRR’s vice president of business development and strategic partnerships, said Airbnb’s daily communication with its users through emails, social media and one-on-one events made it an attractive partner. Airbnb inhabits a newly created community accommodation category with the NYRR, but the deal, Gassner said, includes exclusivity in the hotel category, which traditionally generates significant revenue for endurance properties.

“That focus on community — on both the guest and the host — enhances the overall experience,” Gassner said. “It made sense to move away from the traditional [hotel] deal and see what a partnership could be on a grander scale.”

Gassner said Airbnb’s messaging helped the NYRR find several hundred volunteers for Saturday’s race.

Airbnb’s three-day activation includes running workshops, beer and local food tastings, a mini golf party, and art installations at restaurants and bars around Brooklyn. The company also will publish a list of hot spots chosen by Brooklyn-based Airbnb users to help out-of-towners discover fun things to do in the city.

“It’s going to have an organic feel,” Gassner said.