The Goodyear blimp is synonymous with college football. And this year, the 150th season of the sport, the tire manufacturer is taking the opportunity to open the famed attraction up to fans in partnership with Airbnb.
The short-term rental provider and Goodyear began discussions earlier this year to convert its blimp into an overnight hotel – with stays available between October 22 and October 24 – leading up to the Michigan Wolverines and Notre Dame Fighting Irish game in Ann Arbor that Saturday.
The new pop-up hotel will also be operated by Goodyear, as Airbnb only serves as a marketplace for home rentals and does not manage properties listed on its site.
“The Airbnb partnership helps us reach even more fans in a way that enhances their college football experience. So naturally, we thought they were a great partner,” Goodyear said in an email, adding that the company expects lots of interest from fans when Airbnb lists its offering on October 15.
Accommodations for guests include access to the Goodyear hangar, which is about the size of two and a half football fields, a lakefront location with grill and fire pit for tailgating, and game tickets, according to details released by Airbnb. Each overnight stay for two is priced at $150.
“This is the first time we’ve opened our hangar doors to have a guest spend the night in the blimp,” a Goodyear spokesperson said. “While there are currently no plans to bring back this offer, we’re always committed to providing fun ways for fans to interact with the blimp.”
The Goodyear blimp, set to enter the College Football Hall of Fame this year, is only the latest lodging offering made available to sports fans outside of the traditional four walls of a hotel in recent months. The Miami Heat in March 2018 converted a suite inside of American Airlines Arena into a hotel in partnership with Airbnb rival Booking.com. Courtyard by Marriott, the National Football League’s official sponsor, more recently launched a sleepover contest in September where fans can win a chance to wake up inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where Super Bowl LIV will be played, on game day.
“Co-branding presents an immense opportunity for companies who partner on these types of promotions because it exposes each of their brands to, ideally, a whole new consumer base,” said Windy Dees, associate professor at the University of Miami (FL), with a specialty in sports marketing and sponsorship.
Dees added that the growth of these kinds of brand experiences are tailor-made for social media. “They often go viral and generate crazy impressions. In addition to the massive exposure, they truly tell the brand’s story in a way traditional marketing cannot,” she said.
When asked about what the move means for its overall sports strategy, Airbnb said the move is more of the opportunity for fans to enjoy an authentic football experience. However, this is not the company’s first foray into promoting itself as a go-to option for guests looking for cheaper lodging accommodations around a major sporting event.
In the lead up to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, Airbnb promoted a new tier of Airbnb Plus openings – described as more upscale than basic stay options available on its platform – ahead of the annual contest on its website.
Atlanta hosts were projected to earn $3.3 million in supplemental income by the company in the days leading up to the game, with 23% of those hosts being first time users of the platform. The average price of an Airbnb rental during Super Bowl LIII was also $170 per night, compared to the median $474 price tag of a traditional hotel room in Atlanta that weekend, CNBC reported.
Airbnb said it banks on its offerings to help small businesses outside of main downtown areas benefit from inbound travel, provide extra income for hosts, and lower the strain on customers’ wallets. This is a strategy used by Airbnb in the past as far back as the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Airbnb, which is widely expected by analysts to go public in 2020, makes a commission on every stay booked on its platform.