Airbnb Country Pub Project


Airbnb had already established strong brand recognition and awareness, with one in three Australians now actively using the travel platform. With domestic travel on the rise, Airbnb wanted to find a way to inspire Australians to explore their own backyard in a fresh and authentic way.


Recent research by Airbnb showed that domestic travel was at an all-time high, however only 48% of Australians said that they had visited the outback and less than 33% had holidayed interstate. As a result, many country towns faced economic disruption and waning tourism.  

Country pubs, which often double as hotels, were also struggling to entice new holidaymakers, with research showing 52% of Australians had visited a country pub, however only 14% had stayed overnight.

Airbnb’s focus was to grow regional bookings and advocacy, by reinvigorating Australians’ desire to explore their own backyard.


To engage a broad target audience, we partnered with Airbnb to launch The Country Pub Project – a nationwide initiative offering six pubs a $50,000 Airbnb grant to revive and rejuvenate their accommodation. Doing so would keep the Aussie publican’s dream alive and provide real value to rural Australia in a truly relevant way.

The focus of the initiative was to:

  • Reawaken Australia’s love of country pubs and the unique and authentic experiences available to those that visit them.
  • Position Airbnb as a leader in sustainable tourism that champions the needs of everyday Australians and supports local governments.
  • Drive positive engagement between Airbnb and regional Australians demonstrating the real benefits of hosting with Airbnb.


To achieve our objectives and secure ongoing coverage we developed a three phased approach:

  1. Launch the Country Pub Project and rally Australians to nominate their ‘local’
  2. Announce the winning recipients of the Airbnb grants, profiling local pubs
  3. Highlight the impact of the Airbnb grants on local communities


1. Grants launch

  • Partnered with NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres and hosted national and regional media at the Sofala Royal Hotel in Central West NSW.
  • Coordinated local publican interviews and called upon the nation to nominate a rural pub in need of a grant.
  • Drove widespread coverage via exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and seeded out emotionally-compelling video and visual content to national, state and local media.

2. Winners’ announcement

  • Revealed the six winning pubs via a News Corp. nationwide exclusive, and partnered with Channel 9’s TODAY show taking them on a regional tour of the country to some of the winning rural pubs.
  • Managed a hyper-local media strategy, pitching tailored media releases along with visual assets to regional outlets in each of the winning pubs’ areas.
  • Drove advocacy securing the endorsement of the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, as well as several state Tourism Ministers and local government officials.

3. Pub reveals

  • Unveiled the pub makeovers via a first-run exclusive with News Corp. national and regional network and secured widespread media coverage.
  • Hosted lifestyle and local media at the winning Victorian pub in South Gippsland, to reveal the makeovers and highlight the impact of the grants on regional communities.
  • Engaged celebrity media personality, Grant Denyer, and created social video content showcasing his home town in Central West, NSW.
  • Launched an online collection of over 50 country pubs available to book via Airbnb, and called upon other rural pubs to follow suit, encouraging Australians to book and find “Your Not So Local”.
  • Extended the reach of the publicans’ stories by creating shareable content for regional and national publications as well as the local pubs to post across their owned social channels.



Media highlights

  • With earned media being the only engaged channel at the time of launch, Airbnb received 9,000 country pub nominations from across the country
  • Generated 325 pieces of media coverage, reaching 15,177,204+
  • Earned coverage was shared 23.7k times across social media and led to 3,800 website visits
  • 30% lift in occupancy for The Royal Standard Hotel in Toora (VIC) as a result of hosting consumer media on a regional famil
  • As a result of the campaign, publicans have earned +30% revenue and experienced +300% occupancy

Business results

  • Objective: Increase brand consideration and favorability of Airbnb among existing as well as new users.
    • Achieved +6pts in unaided awareness
    • +3pts in brand favourability seeing Airbnb regain its position as Australia’s favourite travel booking site
  • Objective: Encourage Australians to reconsider domestic travel and contribute to growth in bookings of regional and rural areas in 2019.
    • Publicans have earned +30% revenue and experienced +300% occupancy



  • PRIA 2020 Golden Target Awards “Regional Communications Campaign”
  • Mumbrella CommsCon 2020 “Best B2C Campaign”

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Herd MSL

Herd MSL is an ANZ public relations and integrated communications agency that provides strategic counsel and creative thinking. We champion our clients’ interests through fearless and insightful campaigns that engage multiple perspectives and holistic thinking to build influence and deliver impact.

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