2024 Summer Olympics: Airbnb, Accor, and Air France Hope for Brand Marketing Windfall



AirbnbIOC paris olympic games

In Paris, the fanfare usually associated with the build-up to the Olympic Games have been overshadowed by another event taking place — a snap parliamentary election.

And the Olympic Games aren’t shaping up to be big for tourism either.

However, three travel brands — Accor, Airbnb, and Air France — still want to capitalize on these sports mega-events.

This summer, 15 million are expected to visit Paris — 3 million more than usual. But while the city will be crowded during the Games, the shoulder dates may be less crowded than last year as some travelers avoid the city, fearing hassles. (The Olympics run from July 26 to August 11, 2024 and the Paralympics between August 28 and September 8.)

Accor, Airbnb, and Air France are taking a long-term view. They hope to borrow some of the excitement of the Games to enhance their image while boosting awareness of their brands globally.

Airbnb: Worldwide Partner

Airbnb signed up as a “worldwide partner” in a sponsorship deal reportedly worth $500 million.

Under the tagline “Host the World,” Airbnb has the most multifaceted sponsorship deal, covering free accommodation, grants, experiences, and more. There are also Airbnb Athlete Travel Grants for 1,000 athletes, worth $2,000 each, and a $500 voucher for every participating Olympian and Paralympian. 

These Games feed in well to its Icons program, with Airbnb offering the chance to win a night at the Musée d’Orsay for the opening ceremony. They also tie into Airbnb Experiences, with Para athletes Axel Allétru and Sofyane Mehiaoui, among others, offering stays at their homes. 

But the main benefit will be Airbnb’s opportunity to attract new hosts. Many Parisians will be looking to make a lot of money from the unprecedented demand (and high hotel rates).

“With the Olympic Games set to be the biggest hosting event in Airbnb history, we are committed to making the Games a success for everyone,” said an Airbnb spokesperson to Skift by email.

Airbnb said that active listings in Paris had jumped by 40%, comparing January and March 2023 with the same period this year.

Airbnb’s “Host the World” campaign (2019).

Cozying up to Paris may be good PR for Airbnb following Barcelona’s ban on all short-term rentals by 2029.

“These partnerships can foster closer ties with local governments, facilitating smoother business operations when needed,” said Mirko Lalli, Founder & CEO of Data Appeal, a travel intelligence company.

“Think of a large provider like Airbnb and the difficult situation that the short-term rental industry is experiencing in Spain or the Balearic Islands,” Lalli said. “Could some friendly dialogue off the back of a sponsorship happen? Yes. But at the same time, any mishap during the event could lead to increased scrutiny and criticism.”

Airbnb may also see short-term rentals as a test case for helping a destination manage a crush of inbound tourism effectively and dynamically.

“We’ve already seen the economic benefits to communities and additional accommodation options that short-term rentals provide for large-scale events like Taylor Swift concerts, Eurovision, and the Euros,” said Jessica Gillingham, CEO of Abode Worldwide.  “One of the many advantages is their flexibility — they can be scaled up or down as needed.”

Accor: Premium Partner

Accor will have extensive branding as it contributes to managing the athletes and media villages, equating to 16,000 keys. Apartments are configured so they can be used after the event. The group said it “will roll out its complete vision of hospitality” at these villages and across its 1,700 hotels in France. 

The hotel group will also leverage its ALL-Accor Live Limitless loyalty program, including opportunities to meet with athletes. A one-minute video campaign includes the slogan: “You can’t imagine how many memories we can create for you.” 

Another key sponsorship benefit is recruitment. In France, many people left the hospitality industry during Covid, so the group is ramping up hiring for the Olympics and beyond.

“This event offers a chance to onboard a new generation of hospitality talent and further our mission as a social elevator through recruitment opportunities and upskilling,” Accor said in a statement. 

The question is, will the group benefit from more bookings? The Olympics generally aren’t great for hoteliers. From June 1-26, business was 25.4% down on 2023 levels for Parisian hoteliers, according to MGK Consulting. Price surges during mega-events can deter bookings in the shoulder period before and after. 

But the difference this year is that many tournaments are spread out across the city. At Concorde, a newly built stadium will host urban sports like BMX biking, skateboarding, and 3X3 basketball. The opening ceremony also takes place along the Seine. This plays well to Accor’s footprint. 

Air France: Official Partner

The national carrier will be transporting athletes and equipment across the country. Air France flies 835 direct routes per day from its two Paris airports, including to Olympic venues Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Nice, as well as Papeete (Tahiti) for surfing. 

Sponsorship includes showcasing its Business seats, a VR version of an Airbus A350 cockpit, and gastronomic experiences (including a menu from triple Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Lallement) at the Palais de Tokyo during the Olympics.

During the Paralympics, this sponsorship activation relocates to SPOT 24, an Olympic Sport and Urban Cultures Exhibition near the Eiffel Tower. At that time, it will also highlight its dedicated Saphir assistance service for passengers with disabilities.

Of course, sustainability is a theme this year, and for passengers who contribute to the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel, the carrier will match their contribution for all bookings between July 18 and September 9 to destinations in mainland France and Tahiti. 

However, Air France warned this week that the Paris Games would negatively impact its unit revenues between June and August by $172 million to $194 million.

While the carrier predicts 1 in 5 athletes will travel to the Games with Air France, it said many international markets are avoiding Paris. Plus, many residents in France were postponing their holidays until after the Olympic Games or considering alternative travel plans.      

That said, Air France is also making a long-term marketing play, partly out of duty. France last hosted the Games in 1924, so there’s an extra sense of occasion in Paris hosting it again. Air France was essentially founded in 1933, so this is arguably the airline’s first Games.

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