From treehouses to medieval castles, Airbnb is known for renting out some of the most exclusive properties in the world. And today, the company is doubling down on that reputation with its new Oh God! Fund— which will award $10 million in funding to Airbnb hosts for creating “100 of the weirdest and most unique property ideas.”
From now until July 22, Airbnb will be accepting submissions from architects, designers and everyday people who have an idea of how $100,000 can re-imagine their property as a fabulous destination for themselves. Winners will receive a grant to convert their property into said vision, which, upon completion, will result in Airbnb’s “OMG!” Can be rented on range of exuberant, experiential homes, which already includes a Vishal Boot House And UFO, Submissions will be judged by renowned architect Koichi Takada, designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel, Airbnb VP of experiential creative product Bruce Vaughn, and Christy Wolf (an Airbnb host with several successful OMG! listings).
It would be totally fair to state that OMG! The fund is a clever, grassroots marketing ploy. Everyone loves free money! And the fund is essentially a plethora of well-branded small-business grants designed for anyone looking to improve their properties with less financial risk to host on Airbnb — the process that goes all the while building vacation spots. Can go viral. (The only catch to receiving the grant is that you must list the location on Airbnb upon its completion, and you cannot list it on any other short-term rental platform for a year.)
But OMG! Funding is much more than just marketing. In May, the company introduced its biggest redesign in a decade. Airbnb’s entire user interface is now prioritizing individual homes as a destination as much as it does any city. That means you can choose to live in an A-frame cabin or a tiny house first. , , Then find out where in the world you’re going to do this.
“We’re in 100,000 cities. Very few people can think of typing in more than 20 places [into a search bar]Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said at the time. “So what happens? Everyone goes to the same place. Everybody goes to Vegas and Miami and New York and Paris and Rome and London. ,
of the company Oh God! grade, which launched with a redesign in May, has just the kind of outrageous, aspirational qualities that Chesky imagines can get people out of their city-based travel rut. Such a property can be a Caboose in Virginiaor a Hobbit Hole in Tennesseeor a Grain Bin in Iowa, These are homes that arouse a sense of curiosity, no matter where they are located. And for a mere $10 million investment—the cost of a massive advertising campaign—Airbnb’s hosts will produce 100 more of these properties around the world.
It will be interesting to see not only the results we see from Airbnb, but also whether and how large hotel companies around the world react with their own unique room lists. Because as Airbnb enhances the spectacle of travel, hotels as we know them can seem quite monotonous. Then again, perhaps their predictability will provide a fresh counterpoint.