As journalists flooded the hotels of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, many found their hotel situations to be less than ideal. The hashtag SochiProblems was trending on twitter, with pictures of the horrible conditions being tweeted. Complaints such as a lack of doorknobs, hot water, and finished rooms were common. Some tweeted about other guests moving into their hotel rooms while they were out for the day, while others found that their hotels lacked amenities we take for granted such as lobbies and reception desks. One company, Airbnb, turned this horrible situation around by promoting their nice accommodations for Sochi guests. Airbnb, a website for people to rent out lodging around the world, began to use twitter for a very successful marketing strategy. At first, they tweeted:
After a while the self-proclaimed community hospitality company began to tweet at specific people. They targeted the travelers tweeting about the horrors of Sochi. Below is an example of one of their first responses to people tweeting with the hashtag SochiProblems.
This marketing strategy was extremely effective in reaching their target audience. Because they are not a hotel company, Airbnb was not as popular a company to book rooms through. After tweeting at potential customers, the company gained 150,000+ followers on twitter within a matter of days. The close personal responses to people in subpar accommodations showed that they really cared and were willing to help people out when in need. This strategy was also great because rather than just showing potential customers their accommodations, they engaged them with humor targeted directly at their unique plight. I along with many others were impressed by this strategy, as is evident from several articles written about their tweets.