Airbnb seeks to rid of the world of strangers with new initiative

Hospitality brand gifts $1 million to spur random acts of kindness

Rebecca Harris January 06, 2015

San Francisco-based Airbnb is hoping to turn strangers into friends with its new global iniative, #OneLessStranger.

The online company, which allows hosts to rent their homes, apartments and spare rooms to travellers from around world, gave $10 to 100,000 Airbnb hosts, totaling $1 million. Airbnb is asking the hosts to use the money for “personal and creative acts of hospitality,” like making friendship bracelets to share with strangers or planting seeds in a community garden.

The campaign launched on New Year’s Eve with a video from co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, inviting the Airbnb community to get involved.

“We always talk about how amazing it is that every single night, there’s over half a million people in 190 countries who are sharing each other’s homes and becoming one less stranger,” said Aaron Zifkin, country manager, Airbnb Canada. “We thought this would be a great opportunity for our community to inspire [others]… It’s about real people going out there and introducing themselves to other people.”

To kick off the campaign, Airbnb created #OneLessStranger videos with comedian Erin Foster, former Survivor contestant Malcolm Freberg, former quarterback Matt Leinart and rapper Shwayze.

Airbnb is asking hosts to share photos or videos of their own acts of kindness via social channels using the hashtag #OneLessStranger. Their stories are showcased on a campaign microsite. While funds were sent to 100,000 Airbnb community members, the company is hoping people will “pay it forward” with their own gestures of kindness.

“[Airbnb] is truly a community-driven brand where so much of our growth around the world has come from the stories and experiences that our community members have had,” said Zifkin. For its marketing efforts, “we really think about how we can put tools in the hands of our community members to make them our greatest ambassadors. And this is a great example of that.”