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Have a shoppable stay

The emergence of livable showrooms on AirBnb


Every other Wednesday, h/commerce provides in-depth analysis of the most impactful trends reshaping retail.

Some time ago, while going on vacation most of us would bring back great memories, a couple of magnets and some other smaller or bigger souvenirs. Today, we can also add decorative objects and furniture from the Airbnb stays.

Airbnb pleases millions of travellers looking for immersive location experiences and for the feel of being and living the destination to the fullest. This term of complete immersion was used by some Airbnb hosts, that reimagined their accommodations as fully experimental livable showrooms, by creating some inspiring interiors filled with furniture and objects that can be purchased by their guests.

Stayable brand experiences are a growing trend for experiential marketing. It has been started by some bigger brands like Muji which inaugurated its Muji Hotel Ginza which is basically a mega flagship store, gallery, hotel and restaurant at the same time. It was followed by brands like Nutella that opened a pop-up branded hotel, or Arcade Pioneer Atari which is about to open a gaming-themed hotel in Austin. Eventually, the trend has found its way to Airbnb, and it is no surprise as we live in a world ruled by the platformisation of basically everything.

Let’s take a look at ‘Shoppable stays’ on Airbnb.

Livable showrooms – Pioneers

Creative agency An Aesthetic Pursuit from Brooklyn has made a bold move by creating Airbnb rental space in Maine that is full of furniture that the guests can purchase at any moment through the website. The showroom is available on the most famous vacation rental platform, that the agency called ‘‘the project Pieces Home’’. It is described in the bio as a “shoppable stay” experience with the goal to launch and showcase designs from its recent Pieces collection.

As stated by the company “The first Pieces Homes design-destination concept creates a ‘shoppable stay’ vacation property that allows guests to experience and fall in love with beautifully designed and crafted products”.

The property for rent on Airbnb platform includes the collection Pieces assembled with prominent design pieces from Swiss furniture company Vitra or acclaimed designers like Jasper Morrison or Alvar Aalto. The goal was to create a destination for a vacation that would also be a design experience and a unique moment to experience the products.

Credits: AirBnb

The Airbnb rental from Maine is probably the very first retail actor to create a shoppable vacation property, yet, a handful of other hosts already leverage the experience factor. Last year, an interior designer Robert McKinley rented out his Montauk home on Airbnb where the guests could purchase practically everything. The goal was to create a shoppable rental space that would reveal some interior decoration secrets to their guests and to promote local artists, makers and manufacturers. A dedicated website was created ( so the guests could easily find the styling guidance, as well as the shopping section. The benefit for the guests is double: relaxation and possibility to buy unique souvenirs.

Modern Beach House (Source: Airbnb Magazine/Nicole Franzen)

Another great example comes from Arizona, where Katie Petersen and Will Nathan – rated as Airbnb Superhosts – imagined a way to make their guests experience vintage items and take them home. With that on mind, they accommodated a 140-year-old former tortilla factory that was renovated from the dirt floors up. It was a perfect shell to fill it in with vintage objects and items ranging from pre-1900s rugs to a Dutch mid-century couch. It was then open up to overnight guests via Airbnb. A shoppable rental with triple function: relaxing, shopping and contributing to the circular economy.

Source: Airbnb Magazine/Nicole Franzen

The product experiences that become memories

Shopping while staying on vacation is an integral part of the travel experience. In a shoppable Airbnb, guests who come in to stay overnight might just fall in love with the small rug and as a consequence buy the item on impulse. A place for stay, that offers tangible inspiration is a perfect factor to encourage spontaneous purchase.

Inspiring interiors with the goal to help you to visualize are largely proposed by the retail showrooms, yet somehow, they can feel uninviting. Sometimes it is hard to picture the item seen in a showroom in a personal living room. By positioning a destination as a tangible, inspiring and shoppable experience, the Airbnb hosts eliminate the noise found in both traditional brick-and-mortar and digital retail settings. What is more, they offer an inspiring, already curated offer that the guests can basically ‘‘live’’ prolonging the promise of Airbnb platform. Experimenting the product helps the consumers to make a purchase decision, to ‘‘try before buy’’. When they find an object they love, they can almost feel like they had it already.

The double function of shoppable Airbnbs: relax and retail should be kept in mind by retailers. Stayable shoppable experiences seem to be a natural fit for brands within the home and decor industry, and Airbnb might be new territory for commerce. A place where the overnight experiences and accommodations can transfer into livable, immersive showrooms.

In addition to all that, we should mention the symbolic meaning of bringing a little something back home from vacations. Travelling and staying on vacation is an amazing experience. Part of that experience is in the memories and in general, our desire to garner mementos is strong. That is probably the main reason why we buy souvenirs while travelling. It is important to note, that most of the tourists would like to hold evidence and be reminded of the special moments – a piece of a tangible evidence that they actually been someplace. Shoppable Airbnb is a very intelligent territory to encourage and contribute to these reminiscences of a destination. The guests who come and stay might just fall in love with a vase, and it can become something more than a vase. It can be a wonderful reminder.

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Mikaela Barbosa

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