Stunt Work: Airbnb and “Allemansrätten”

I once attended a seminar on travel and tourism PR, and the main takeaway was simple: whatever is special about the place you represent, emphasize that. Promote what makes your place unique.

Visit Sweden has recently come up with an incredible new way to follow that very advice, and… listed the entire country on Airbnb?

Sweden’s Airbnb profile explains this move:

“Allemansrätten – or the freedom to roam – is a principle protected by Swedish law that gives all people the right to be free in Swedish nature. In other words, Swedish nature isn’t just a piece of land with trees and lakes and cliffs – it’s a home with all the necessities and amenities that any great home should have. It’s a place where you can eat berries from the ground, sleep under the stars, swim in the lakes and roam freely. To make this home available for everyone, Sweden has listed the entire country on Airbnb.”

I first found out about this stunt on prexamples.com, which led me to the Airbnb page as well as Visit Sweden’s website. Visit Sweden’s website has a more succinct introduction to the Airbnb move: “Sweden has no Eiffel Towers. No Niagara Falls or Big Bens. Not even a little Sphinx. Sweden has something else – the Freedom to Roam.” The is accompanied by a “Launch Experience” button that takes you to a longer explanation of the campaign, complete with videos and testimonials.

What Visit Sweden did well:

Visuals. The photographs accompanying this campaign are breathtaking. The stunning nature photography really illustrates the idea of the whole outdoorsy nature of “allemansrätten.” I followed one link to the site and suddenly had a completely unprecedented desire to travel to Sweden – which was obviously the whole point.

Went big. They were going for shock value here, which is made clear in their grand announcement of listing the “entire country on Airbnb.” It’s certainly memorable. Go big or go home.

Knew their audience. Sweden is clearly trying to attract outdoor adventurists, and they targeted that audience beautifully. Everything about the webpages – the photography, the descriptions in the content, and the people giving testimonials – plays to that aesthetic.

What could have been better:

Publicity. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I’m not sure I ever would have heard of this if I hadn’t been researching publicity stunts already. Visit Sweden needs to reach out to travel bloggers and Instagram influencers if they want to reach outdoor travel enthusiasts. As silly as that may sound, those pictures on social media often influence other travelers in planning their next trip. Once I saw the pictures, I wanted to go to Sweden, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would feel that way.

Overall, I was impressed with this stunt. Visit Sweden clearly invested in making this a beautiful campaign, and a memorable one – if you ever hear about it.

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