Airbnb comes to the rescue of those with #SXSWproblems

Dstillery_edit_sponsoredDigiday’s coverage of SXSW, which runs March 7-11 in Austin, Tex., is sponsored by Dstillery, the pioneer in audience targeting for brands.


Airbnb has turned its real-time marketing rewards program up to 11 for South by Southwest, trolling Twitter for vocal complainers and others in need of help. It has given away more than 100 rewards to festival attendees after just one day into the nine-day event.

Airbnb is conducting the real-time marketing program by having its customer service reps looking for and responding SXSW- and Airbnb-related tweets and emails. The rewards vary by the nature of each recipient’s tweet or email.

Airbnb gifted a Whole Foods gift card to a group of co-workers who are sharing an Airbnb rental in Austin, Tex., for SXSW, according to an Airbnb spokesperson. It gifted a pair of cowboy boots to a festival attendee who tweeted “yeehaw.” Musicians in Austin to perform as part of SXSW’s music festival might receive a Guitar Center gift card from Airbnb. And Airbnb gave me an unsolicited $500 credit for a tweet about the size of New York City apartments.

Just hours later, I received an email from Airbnb customer service representative Jesi Owens saying I was eligible for a $500 Airbnb credit. (I politely declined the offer.)

Maybe you’d be interested in seeing what a larger room back in NYC is like, just for comparison’s sake? :)

Please accept this coupon for a weekend staycation back home. It’s worth $500 and good for one year.

SXSW is a busy time for Airbnb, which expects more than 11,000 guests in Austin over the course of the festival.

The Airbnb spokesperson said that the rewards are given somewhat at random. Airbnb’s customer service reps monitor social media and respond with gifts whenever they think it’s appropriate. So enterprising New Yorkers hoping to cash in by tweeting about their apartments should not expect to necessarily receive the same treatment.

The effort is similar to what Airbnb did during the Winter Olympics, where it swooped to the rescue of reporters complaining about #Sochiproblems with sub-standard accommodations. The SXSW program, however, is broader than just journalists.

Airbnb said it conducts this kind of social media listening and responding all throughout the year, but ratchets it up for special occasions. Airbnb gives out between five and 10 rewards in a typical week, the spokesperson said. It’s already given out more than 100 rewards to SXSW attendees, and plans to continue until the festival ends.

On Friday, for example, Dan Cederholm tweeted a photo of his unfurnished Airbnb rental.

Within two hours, Airbnb has furnished the entire apartment.

Elizabeth Weil. a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, lamented renting an Airbnb apartment from a single guy means not having a hair dryer. Not for long!