Airbnb inks first major global sponsorship with Olympics deal

Airbnb is promising to make the Olympics the “most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet” as part of a nine-year deal that aims to boost its reputation before going public.

Airbnb has signed a deal with the International Olympic Committee (ICO) to sponsor the Olympic Games until 2028 in a deal the travel company claims will ensure the Games are “the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet”.

The nine-year agreement, Airbnb’s first major global sponsorship deal, means Airbnb will sponsor a total of five Games. It will begin with the next Olympics in Tokyo, and including winter and summer games in Beijing, Paris, Milan and Los Angeles. The five cities are among Airbnb’s biggest markets.

Airbnb and the IOC have promised the deal will create a “new standard” for hosting that will be a win for “host cities, a win for spectators and fans, and a win for athletes”. There is a particular focus on sustainability, including providing travel options that are “economically empowering, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable”.

Airbnb is promising to generate of thousands of new hosts over nine years, “giving community residents the opportunity to earn extra income by providing accommodation and local experiences” to visitors.

It will also mean a reduction in costs for Olympic organisers, which traditionally have to build a huge amount of infrastructure in host cities to accommodate the influx of tourism and athletes. Both groups will have also noted that they will work to increase accommodation that supports accessibility for people with disabilities and other accessibility needs.

Airbnb says 85,000 visitors to the Rio Olympics in 2016 used its platform, generating a total of £30m for hosts and an estimated £100m in economic activity. It also provided the equivalent of 257 hotels for guests, saving on materials use and carbon emissions.

IOC president Thomas Bach says: “This innovative partnership underpins our strategy to ensure that the efficient staging of the Olympic Games is sustainable and leaves a legacy for the host community.”

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In addition, the IOC will make at least £28m worth of Airbnb accommodation available over the course of the partnership to athletes competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“With Airbnb’s support, we will also develop new opportunities for athletes around the world to develop their own direct revenue streams through the promotion of physical activity and the Olympic values. From this partnership there will also be direct benefit for athletes beyond the $5bn the IOC is distributing during this Olympiad for their benefit to Organising Committees and sports organisation around the world,” adds Bach.

The deal builds on Airbnb’s previous support of the Olympics; it was previously a domestic sponsor for both the Rio Games in 2016 and Winter Games in PyeongChange last year. Its increased involvement will see it become a partner in a new category of ‘unique accommodation products and unique experiences service’ and join other global sponsors including Coca-Cola, Toyota and Alibaba.

Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia says: “Airbnb and the IOC have a strong track record in creating and accommodating the world’s greatest events. Our Olympic partnership will ensure that the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet, and leave a lasting positive legacy for athletes and host communities.

“Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are proud that the Olympic spirit will be carried by our community.”

Airbnb will also work with the IOC to help refugees. Both have previously worked to help asylum seekers including the creation of the Olympic Refuge Foundation in 2017 and Airbnb’s ‘Open Homes’ programme, founded in 2015.

Airbnb is expected to go public next year and sponsoring the largest sporting event in the world could give it a reputational boost after a wave of recent scandals including online scams. It would also promote its brand to prospective hosts and holiday-makers.

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