Airbnb is relatively new to advertising, but in the two years since the eight-year-old California company started promoting itself more strategically, it’s had Bear Grylls jumping out of a plane to land on a remote island, and used Disney’s “The Jungle Book” to advertise a sale on treehouse listings.
The strategy has worked. Airbnb has doubled the number of users on its platform to 80 million in the last 12 months.
And while there are igloos, yurts, domes and yachts to rent, the newest listing takes the cake.
Today, Airbnb has announced its first ever listing on the Great Barrier Reef in far northern Queensland.
Plonked in the middle of the Coral Sea, surrounded by one of the great wonders of the world, guests can step out the front door and go swimming with a star of the film that brought the reef to life for millions of people around the world – Nemo.
Unfortunately however, the listing is temporary, and only one family gets to use it just once as part of a competition to promote the “Finding Nemo” sequel, “Finding Dory”.
The competition will be running from now until June 30 at 11:59 pm AEST.
In July, as part of the Airbnb experience, the winning family will met the host — 19-year-old Pascal, who has lived on the reef all his life, with Rockpool chef Neil Perry cooking the meals using sustainably-sourced local produce. And of course they’ll explore the Reef’s maritime marvels up close with a snorkelling or diving experience assisted by a marine biologist.
Business Insider visited the floating pad to see what all the hype was about. It didn’t disappoint.
After seeing the reef from the air, flying by helicopter from Port Douglas to Cairns, we headed to sea on a luxury cruiser to a white sand island surrounded by crystal clear aqua water.
The coastline could be seen faintly in the distance.
The Airbnb pontoon, floating about 200m from the island, looks like it belongs in the Maldives. It’s elegant yet simple, with a small camping toilet and shower. Beyond the adult’s bedroom with its beach styling and flowing white curtains is the kid’s retreat, and a lounge area from which you can dive straight into the ocean.
The reason for the minimalist layout is because – as we found – you won’t spend much time on the pontoon, apart from sleeping, instead heading out to explore the reef, which surrounds the nearby uninhabited island, where the dining area is set up on the sand.
Even though it’s winter, it’s a glorious 28-degree day, and all you want to do is take a plunge into the ocean.
Now that stinger season is over, it’s OK to go in wearing just your swimmers rather than a neck-to-knee stinger suit. (FYI: small jellyfish called Irukandji inhabit the waters of northern Queensland, and their sting is lethal.)
When you’re not in the water, counting the varieties of fish and corals, you’re playing Spotto with green turtles bobbing their heads up and down for air.
Airbnb Australian country manager Sam McDonagh says being on the reef isn’t just about the natural beauties, there’s also a feel-good element.
“It’s not just about experiencing the unrivalled beauty of the location, it’s about understanding how humans can better help and support this special environment,” he said.
There has been a lot of media coverage recently about the health of the reef. A recent study discovered that 35% of the reef, which spans 130,000 square miles — similar to the size of Japan, and nearly as big as the state of California -– is now bleached, and essentially dead.
To help preserve the World Heritage region, Airbnb has pledged to a plant mangrove tree or other wetland species for every guest visiting the region during the remainder of 2016.
“These trees will reduce carbon and improve water quality going out to the seas and reef,” McDonagh said.
Airbnb will also contribute to an ongoing tiger shark tagging project run by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
“Tiger sharks are nearing threatened status so understanding how these animals use the ocean is a critical step toward effective conservation of the species,” McDonagh said.
Here are some more photos of the listing.
The parent’s bedroom
The kid’s retreat
Classic beach chic design
This is the backyard
And when we said it’s in the middle of the ocean…
It really is in the middle of the ocean
Fancy a paddle?
These clear-bottomed kayaks are ideal
Here’s where Neil Perry’s feast will be served
Not bad, huh?
And, of course, the guests will be treated to the “Finding Dory” movie, alfresco-style
* Business Insider travelled to the Great Barrier Reef as a guest of Airbnb.
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