#belonghere


Airbnb Experiences
Experiential Marketing Campaign


This experiential marketing campaign is a neighborhood walkthrough that encourages New Yorkers to engage with their surroundings, speculate, and empathize with different characters that they might encounter every day.

#belonghere aims to break the stereotype of impersonal Flatiron District and help New Yorkers practice the art of shifting their perspective, by adopting a non-judgmental, less biased behavior.

 





How can Airbnb associate its brand with neighborhood reinforcement, rather than neighborhood erosion?


How can Airbnb create moments of positive engagement
with local communities?

How can Airbnb strengthen the image of an authentic brand
by underlining its mission?




Concept
Meet the neighbors you didn’t know you have; memorize their names, get to know their passions, overhear their conversations.

Explore the unseen NYC, hidden behind closed doors or existing right in front of
your eyes. Find New Yorkers—just like you.

#belonghere. Even just for 90 seconds.


The Neighbors live in Flatiron District and may or may not be part of the Airbnb community.
They will make you reconsider the stereotype of the neighborhood's resident. The audience gets to know them through graphics and interactives in stations along the neighborhood.

#belonghere will be developed in close collaboration with MTA and Flatiron Partnership. Airbnb will work closely with the Flatiron Community Board to recruit and highlight the Neighbors, important people of the community.
Project Goals
  • Promote and advertise Airbnb Experiences
  • Associate Airbnb with neighborhood reinforcement.
  • Create an analog-based platform in addition to digital, where locals can connect in person
  • Introduce the unseen aspects of the neighborhood life through the perspective of each Neighbor
Audience
The primary audience is locals: Gen Y and Gen X.
Secondarily, the campaign addresses to NYC travelers,
both domestic and international.


Challenges

  • Deliver content in a free exploration and unique path for the audience.
  • Trigger their curiosity in a highly stimulating environment.
  • Offer multi-layered experiences that their duration depends on the visitor.
  • Orchestrate a uniform and seemless experience that takes over 6 streets of 6th Ave.
  • Trigger audience’s interest ad enrich their reality without interrupting it.



Venue
The locations feature spots both above ground and underground in the Flatiron District, Midtown Manhattan.

The #belonghere campaign takes over corners along 6th Ave. and the subway station at 23rd St. and 6th Ave., where the F and M trains meet the Path. This area rests at the borders of Flatiron District, in direct contact with Chelsea to the west and Koreatown to the north. It is chosen as the most appropriate location to launch the campaign as it is an extension of Midtown Manhattan, the largest central business district in the world. 


Even though Midtown Manhattan hosts nearly a million people every workday, it is an actual home to less than 80,000 residents. Is it still a neighborhood, when there are 10 times the number of visitors as actual residents?

If a neighborhood is an area where people spend moments and interact with one another on a regular basis, then the area of both residential and professional addresses can be defined as a neighborhood.


Marketing Approach
The #beloghere campaign aims to bring Airbnb’s digital service to the physical world. However, the way for Airbnb to measure the success of the experience is by monitoring the number of people downloading the Airbnb App from specific locations and the use of the #belonghere tab. Time is also a metric for the experience; by documenting how much time people engaged with specific locations and activities
The pilot #belonghere/ Flatiron District is an indicator that records peoples’ preferences and informs how the experience will adjust in future locations. The experience relies also on social media engagement, by providing opportunities worth sharing in social media platforms and keeps track of the #belonghere impressions and times being used in digital conversations.
Stations
City points




The #belonghere campaign is designed to be experienced in a multi-layered way. The audience can bump into the stations in Flatiron District or augment the experience by using the application or getting the wristbands in the Humming Bus Stop locations. 

Visual Communication

The Look and Feel of the Airbnb Experiences Campaign celebrates the spontaneous everyday moments of human connection in a playful way.

Organic shapes, versions of basic geometry are associated with specific color and content, and also form the signature confetti wayfinding. Photography in scale creates drama and intrigue, playing with the idea of the observer–observed, audience–actor. The silhouette cutouts focus on the characters’ body language and active mood. The layout allows for multiple interpretations of the graphics, as seen from different distances. Questions are used to guide people’s thinking.

The typography used is Airbnb Cereal–a unique font designed by Airbnb–combined with the #belonghere handwritten fonts, that bring the Neighbors’ words to life.

Technical Drawings
Benefits for Airbnb
  • Refined experience in future locations
  • Social media impressions
  • Positive engagement with local communities
  • Strengthened image of authentic brand by underlining its mission
  • Brand association with neighborhood reinforcement, rather than erosion
  • Brand loyalty growth
  • Positive interactions with potential users, when they most need it
  • Development of top–of–mind awareness

Metrics
  • App downloads 

  • Social media engagement
  • In app, #belonghere tab usage
  • Time spent in Flatiron experiences
  • Airbnb Experiences demand 

The #belonghere campaign creates the atlas that maps individuals rather than boundaries and numbers.
This worldwide map crosses the borders of nations and stereotypes to document people’s interests and passions, turning the globe into a neighborhood.

Theoritical Background
Thesis Statement
New York City (NYC.) is a highly stimulating environment challenged by light pollution, constant noise, long commuting hours and high living costs. Research shows that the exposure to NYC, both permanent and temporary, can be fatal. In response to urban stress, people subconsciously shut down and isolate themselves.

Mindfulness, the practice of controlling one’s own attention through the attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance, can offer transformative moments and enable stressed New Yorkers to improve their everyday life. My research will focus on specific drama mechanisms, such as voice projection, thought tracking, tableaux vivant, role play, and object theater that create opportunities to practice urban mindfulness in NYC.


New York offers an intense mode of life, demanding from its residents constant alertness, from competitive professional environments to the lack of personal space in a subway car. The city encourages them to exercise a consistent and uninterrupted daily sensorial subconscious multitasking, as they are always on the lookout. As Georg Simmel further explains, in order to survive and deal with the environmental overstimulation, metropolitan people isolate themselves. The constant and long exposure to urban stimuli agitates the nerves of metropolitan people, who, after a while, are unable to react further and instead develop a “blasé” attitude. Simmel further states, “An incapacity thus emerges to react to new sensations with the appropriate energy. This constitutes that blasé attitude which, in fact, every metropolitan child shows when compared with children of quieter and less changeable milieus.”

If NYC is a highly stimulating environment that requires multi-tasking,
how can its residents develop their emotional side and enhance their well-being?


Research shows that mindfulness, in the form of meditation and body-relaxation, can improve the multitasking performance in a high-stress information environment. Mindfulness, as the practice of controlling attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance, can enable stressed New Yorkers to combat their isolation and disconnection from their surroundings and improve their everyday life.

As a way of cultivating mindfulness, this project investigateshow theater and drama techniques create a collective experience that encourages the audience to be emotionally involved with both the actors/subject matter and their fellow audience members/surroundings. Theater was selected as an element in alignment with the western lifestyle that can alleviate the stress of skeptical New Yorkers in a spontaneous and natural way, without the risk of being seen as “forced spirituality.” Theater benefits the audience in various ways, as a theatrical act conceptually relates to the cognitive science and affective neuroscience.
For more information on the Thesis research, visit issuu.
For more information on the Presentation, visit V21 Artspace.


This project was created in December 2019, as a part of the Thesis project, in the Master’s Program of Exhibition and Experience Design, Fashion Institute Technology, NY.

Thesis Professor: Brenda Cowan
Thesis Advisor: Christina Ferwerda


Copyright © 2020 TINA COLUMBUS