Zomato launching Intercity legends [now shut].

Unacademy launching Icons where you can learn how to bat from Sachin Tendulkar.

And now Airbnb with their Icons category of experiences.

What is common in all of this?

High profile launches help

  • drive curiosity
  • get people excited
  • the short PR buzz drives demand
  • challenge the team to move beyond their comfort zone
  • drive more innovation;  the ability to move beyond the core leads to more interesting products in the future

For Airbnb, Icons is a way to test out if they are actually provide a 11 star experience to their users. Not every item in the Icons category is a Stay. And it can’t be called an Experience because it is kinda a hybrid product. It does not fit in their existing experiences category.
 Launching high-profile products also challenges the team to keep innovating and improving, which can lead to better overall service quality and new ideas. Think about how much Zomato would have had to think about their supply chain to allow delivery from a restaurant in Kolkata to a foodie in Bengaluru.

These Icons experiences will create a lot of user generated content, creating a fly wheel effect. Someone stays in SRK’s house in Bandra. Posts a tweet on social media viewed by millions of users. More people go on Airbnb to see the details and cost of the experience. Airbnb stays top of mind for users even if not everyone can afford an Iconic experience of staying in SRK’s house in Bandra. All these UGC will stay forever and keep attracting users to the platform.

While Icons might not significantly impact the company’s  P&L immediately due to their niche and premium nature, they would definitely offer higher AOV, attract more premium customers, and improve the perceived value of their platform. Icons help position Airbnb beyond a Stays product. If you read their quarterly update they combine numbers for nights/stays and experiences. I am assuming they are still highly reliant on Stays. Icons give them an opportunity to expand beyond their core products. If you read their last quarterly update they mentioned it as one of their focus for 2024. I think this is one in a series of products to come this year that will help position Airbnb beyond Stays.