You may have heard that Airbnb is starting a new quarterly magazine called Pineapple. Yes, it’s a magazine…and it’s called Pineapple. Why are they doing this? Airbnb has made no secret that they’re trying to establish a brand rather than being a fly-by-night operation that use you use to find a place to stay. This is a natural continuation of the logo and website overhaul. It’s meant to act as another vehicle for them to portray what their company means to its customers. I understand all of that and it’s well and good, but let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. Here are 6 reasons why I think the Airbnb Magazine will Fail Miserably:
1. Magazine readership is down
You can’t deny the fact that people aren’t reading long-form content as much as they used to. And they’re certainly not reading as much of it in paper form. Airbnb may see this as a way to reach an older audience but you have to question that logic. Perhaps some print ads in older-targeted magazines could achieve that, but establishing a magazine yourself may be overkill.
2. Pineapple is a confusing name
They say that Pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and that makes sense. Hospitality has been the biggest buzz word that Airbnb has been throwing around for the past couple of years. With Chip Conley as the Head of Hospitality he’s tried to bring these subtle aspects of the hotel industry over to the sharing economy. Be that as it may, what’s wrong with just calling it Airbnb magazine? The average person won’t make the Pineapple/hospitality connection. But Airbnb already has fantastic name recognition and the title alone would generate interest.
3. Lots of Competition
We have no shortage of travel/lifestyle magazines out there. It doesn’t appear that Airbnb is filling an existing niche. It seems like they’re coming into an overcrowded marketplace where they have no experience or expertise. That typically is a recipe for disaster. I suppose you could argue that the company has minimal expectations for Pineapple and are ok with low readership but that’s really no excuse.
4. Airbnb is a digital service
One of the things that people love so much about Airbnb is that it is a digital service. It’s magical when you book a place to stay from your phone without having to call anyone or sign any actual paper. Why lose that magic by creating something that isn’t in digital form? Even if the magazine has a tablet format it seems counterintuitive to the brand’s mission.
Pineapple sells for $12 on the Airbnb website for 128 pages. That’s a decent number of pages, but it it really worth the cost? $12 will book you a solid dorm-room style accommodation in Bangkok. Maybe save that money and use it for your next booking!
6. Unrealistic portrayal of average listing
This is a fine line for Airbnb to straddle. Yes, you want to portray an image of beautiful listings around the world that are worthy of being in a magazine. But not every listing will meet this criteria. With a publication like this you risk creating an unrealistic standard of listing for people to achieve. There are obvious ways to make your listing look better. But it’s hard to preach the accessibility of anyone being able to list a space and then also push beautiful, luxurious spaces that can be found around the world.
Good luck Airbnb, you’ll need it with Pineapple.