Airbnb's sponsorship of the New York Marathon looks a smart move. Not only does this give the online company the opportunity to communicate directly with up to 100,000 runners and encourage them and their friends and relatives to use its services over the weekend, the image and opportunities also tie in perfectly with the service that it offers.
A tour of New York going past thousands of properties in a range of districts is exactly what Airbnb offers.
In 2013 there were an estimated 10,000 Airbnb users during the Marathon weekend, with the majority a very short distance from the course. For the 2014 event, which takes place in November, Airbnb has negotiated hospitality rights, which will allow it to further showcase its services and it will also have signage on the route.
The sponsorship suggests that other leisure/property companies should perhaps look at tie ups with sports that deliver both large audiences and opportunities to creatively showcase their services outside of conventional sports arenas. City marathons are an obvious example, but what about the Tour de France, for example? The Grand Depart from Leeds this year saw an estimated 2 million people in Yorkshire view the race and as it heads to London, this is likely to double before even reaching France, where another 14 million are expected to view live. Added to this is the enormous global media coverage. For such sponsors as car hire companies, airlines and hotel groups, it is an ideal opportunity to draw attention to their geographical coverage and relevant products yet no such companies are official race or primary team sponsors.
What is also interesting in the Airbnb case is that another new, online company has seen the value of sponsorship as a communication tool. With rights holders sometimes struggling to find sponsors among traditional industry sectors, this is encouraging for the industry and could help rights holders to think creatively about potential partners.
Journal: Measuring attendance: issues and implications for estimating the impact of free-to-view sports events