Airbnb case study

Ground-breaking online accommodation market-place Airbnb set up in London's Tech City with help from London & Partners and UK Trade & Investment.

Client profile

Airbnb, a ground-breaking online marketplace for peer-to-peer accommodations wanted to grow its UK and European markets. London & Partners, working with UK Trade & Investment, helped it set up in London’s Tech City helping the company grow 748% in the UK in 2011.

The trusted insight we’ve received from London & Partners has enabled us to make informed and sound decisions in regards to the UK market. It’s great to have an ally like London & Partners when you are entering a new market.

Christopher Lukezic, Director of Marketing and Communications EMEA, Airbnb

About Airbnb

Airbnb is an accommodation booking service letting private, spare space around the world. Founded in San Francisco in 2008, it has offices in Barcelona, Copenhagen, São Paulo, Paris, Milan, Hamburg, Moscow, Berlin and now London. Airbnb offers accommodation in more than 20,000 cities across 192 countries.

Business aim

Airbnb knew that the best way to grow its UK business was to set up ‘on the ground’, close to existing and potential ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’. London was an obvious base, but who could help it make the right decisions, fast?

London & Partners services

  • Market insight: intelligence on London’s tourism landscape, visitor numbers and trends
  • Employment guidance: advice on law and regulation
  • Office location: setting up in London’s digital cluster, Tech City
  • PR and promotion: co-organising press events
  • 2012 Games: organising a tour of the Olympic Park

Business success in London

Airbnb grew its UK business by 748% after setting up a temporary London office in 2011 and moving to a permanent base in Tech City, London’s hi-tech cluster, in early 2012. By summer 2012 it was listing more than 10,000 London properties.

In their own words

What advice would you give a company trying to expand to London?
“Don't underestimate the time you need for recruitment. Choose your location wisely. Meet companies that have just done it to find out how to solve problems: London & Partners can introduce you.”

London & Partners helps overseas companies set up in London quickly and efficiently. How did they help you?
“London & Partners has been very helpful in getting us started. They’ve advised on UK investment and tourism market trends; on the best place to set up an office and on employment law. They also helped organise PR events and set up a tour of the Olympic Park, and connected us with the local tech scene here in London.”

What is Airbnb?
“We connect people to unique travel experiences anywhere in the world by connecting them to hosts who use Airbnb to rent out everything from a private apartment, to a private island.”

Your office is in London’s Tech City, one of Europe’s largest concentrations of fast-growing digital companies. What’s the area like?
“We see ourselves as pioneers of the ‘sharing economy’ - a movement rooted in the belief that access is greater than ownership - so being here offers enormous benefits. Tech City is the centre of innovation in the UK and with such close proximity to other game-changing companies, we think this is the best place to be to change the world.”

London & Partners is London’s official promotional organisation. What do you think of it?
“It’s such an obvious partner: authoritative, impartial and free. It’s one of the best, biggest and most well-regarded city agencies. London & Partners is an important resource helping to make London a leading city for starting up a business.”

A London base gives you access to Europe’s largest end-user market: 7.8 million people. Was this a factor?
“We’ve had users and properties in the UK since 2009, but we moved to London to be closer to our community, to support them better, both on and offline.

But why should a tech company be closer to its users?
“From the beginning we’ve driven our innovation forward by listening to the needs of our community and working with them to solve their problems. Being closer to our community means we can innovate quickly and better support our community by building real relationships with them and the local neighbourhoods where they live.”

The 2012 Games will be a lasting global advert for London. Has this influenced your decision to set up here?
“For thousands of visitors, Airbnb hosts will be the face of London as they will be helping visitors to experience London in a local and authentic way. The hospitality of London will shine through and will leave a lasting impact for future visitors looking to experience London in a new way.”

London & Partners also helps overseas companies grow once they’ve set up here. Will you continue to use its services?
“London & Partners continues to be a valued partner. London is unique: there are so many venues and so many visitors. It’s fantastic to have a source of impartial advice.”

London & Partners is impartial and does not charge for its services. What difference did this make to your decisions?
“The trusted insight we’ve received from London & Partners has enabled us to make informed and sound decisions in regards to the UK market. It’s great to have an ally like London & Partners when you are entering a new market.”  

Christopher Lukezic, Director of Marketing and Communications EMEA, Airbnb

Published: 2012