Airbnb joins the ranks of business superstars like Coca Cola and Alibaba as part of the “worldwide sponsorship programme” of the Olympic Games. Though the cost of the deal has not been officially released to the public, it is reportedly valued at around $500 million. This deal is the largest sponsorship for the 11-year-old San Francisco startup.
The deal will span eight years, encompassing the next five Olympic Games in the cities of Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, Milan, and Los Angeles. While Airbnb currently has about 200,000 hosts across these five cities, their plan is to increase this number substantially thanks to this deal.
The partnership seems like it will be pretty good for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who has been under pressure to reduce the cost of the notoriously, astronomically high cost of production for the Olympic Games. Usually, when a city is preparing to host the Games, the IOC spends tens of millions of dollars constructing new hotels to accommodate the large number of visitors who will be in the city. (And these buildings usually don’t pay for themselves because they go largely underused once the Games conclude)
Airbnb should prove to be a cost-effective solution to this problem. The current hosts, as well as the hundreds of thousands of hosts they plan to add throughout the next 9 years, should be able to handle these accommodations.
Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, expresses their excitement surrounding this partnership, mentioning that, “in the past, people have travelled to the Olympics on Airbnb, of course. But [they] have never been able to officially market to host cities or potential hosts,” as this partnership allows.
These accommodations include housing for visitors, as well as for Olympians and Paralympians during training and competing. But Olympic leadership will still be staying in fancy hotels. For convenience’s sake, they say.
Airbnb will also be offering Airbnb Olympic Experiences, allowing athletes to earn money by having them host experiences such as training alongside or touring the city with an Olympian.
It seems like it should be a win/win. Lower rental rates for visitors, direct revenue for local communities and hosts, Airbnb’s commission on rentals, and a lack of necessity for the IOC to build new infrastructure.
Not everyone is happy about this arrangement, though. The mayor of Paris, the 2024 host city, has some strong feelings about it. Mayor Anne Hidago has expressed her issues with Airbnb, going as far as suggesting banning Airbnb in some parts of the city even before this deal was formed, because she attributes the shortage of longterm rentals, and therefore the skyrocketing of rent prices, partially to the short-term rental company.
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Hannah Michelle Lambert is the Social Media + Events Coordinator at Worthix, as well as the host of the monthly CX News Recap segment. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.