Airbnb last week made its biggest move to date in the sports market by agreeing a nine-year contract to become a top-tier partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a deal that promises to open up new possibilities for fans attending the Olympic Games.
The online marketplace for accommodation and tourism experiences has joined the IOC’s ‘TOP’ sponsorship programme through to 2028, a period taking in next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, along with the 2024 and 2028 events in Paris and Los Angeles, and the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics in Beijing and Milano/Cortina, respectively.
The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organisers and stakeholders, minimise the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities. Working together with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Airbnb will also promote accommodation that supports accessibility for people with disabilities or other needs.
Airbnb has history with the Olympic Games, along with other sporting events, with the company having served as a domestic sponsor of the local organising committees of the past two Olympic Games – PyeongChang 2018 and Rio 2016.
A recent World Economic Forum study found that during Rio 2016 the additional capacity provided through Airbnb’s platform was equivalent to 257 hotels for guests, providing approximately $30m in direct revenue for hosts and generating an estimated total economic activity of $100m in three weeks.
Beyond the sustainability and logistic benefits to the city, Airbnb explained that its partnership with Rio 2016 amplified community engagement and encouraged people-to-people connection between domestic and international visitors, and city residents who were or became hosts, business owners or entrepreneurs.
Airbnb also said its community provided extra flexibility to accommodate last-minute visitors at stable pricing. In the two weeks prior to the Games, Airbnb said a reservation spike increased total guest arrivals in Rio by 29%, but the price per guest per night remained steady at $55.
During PyeongChang 2018, Airbnb hosts earned a collective $2.3m in income providing accommodation to 15,000 visitors who would have otherwise required 46 hotels. Outside of the Olympic Games, for the recently concluded Rugby World Cup in Japan, Airbnb hosts across the country welcomed more than 650,000 travellers during the tournament, earning more than $70m in host income.
However, it is through Airbnb’s Experiences offering that the fan experience at future Olympic Games is set to be ramped up.
In the coming months, Airbnb will develop a unique Olympian Experience category on Airbnb Experiences, in conjunction with the IOC’s Athlete365 platform, and provide support and training to athletes interested in becoming a host.
Olympian Experiences will be hosted by Olympians and other elite athletes, providing direct earning opportunities for them and opening up new experiences for fans. To be launched in 2020, the new category will operate beyond the timeframe and geographical location of the Games. Promoting sport and physical activity, experiences on offer are set to include everything from the chance to train with an Olympian to learning to cook or exploring a city with an elite athlete.
In a background briefing provided to Fan XP, Airbnb said: “Overall, we have over 40,000 Experiences on the platform and we have committed to launching the Olympian category next year with support from the IOC to spread the values among travellers and locals around the world.
“We expect to attract a significant amount of talent, as we already have a successful base of Experiences related to sports and physical activity and we also expect a broad demand, by locals and travellers, who would value access to elite athletes’ experience, life journey and skills.”
The agreement also includes marketing rights for the IPC and the Paralympic Games through the IOC-IPC long-term collaboration agreement, as well as for the Youth Olympic Games. IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement: “This innovative partnership underpins our strategy to ensure that the efficient staging of the Olympic Games is sustainable and leaves a legacy for the host community.
“With Airbnb’s support, we will also develop new opportunities for athletes around the world to develop their own direct revenue streams through the promotion of physical activity and the Olympic values.”
This exclusive insight into Airbnb’s partnership with the IOC is part of Fan XP- a newsletter designed to keep you abreast of the latest innovations, strategies and more regarding fan experience across the globe. To sign up, please click here.