As Airbnb continues to work through negotiations with hotel and housing regulators in some markets, it’s not wasting any time in building out its footprint globally. The accommodation rental juggernaut is partnering with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom to preinstall its app in Android smartphones sold across 13 markets in Europe, including DT’s home market of Germany. Those who register for the service through DT will get €30 ($35) vouchers to stay in Airbnb rooms.
Airbnb has notably partnered with the likes of business travel platform Concur (alongside Uber) to integrate its accommodation inventory and build up its business in the corporate market. Airbnb tells me this is the first time the company is working with a carrier to expand its business.
It’s borrowing from the playbook of other startups that have popular mobile apps, which have turned to carrier partnerships to pick up more users. Examples of others include Spotify, Evernote, Pinterest and Twitter, who have worked out, variously, preinstalled app and widget/homescreen deals, discounts on premium subscriptions and more.
Partnering with a carrier in Europe gives Airbnb more exposure outside of its home market of the U.S. and also continues to push that mobile card.
“We are happy to have such a strong partner as Deutsche Telekom on our side,” says Christopher Cederskog, Regional Manager Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Southeast Europe at Airbnb, in a statement. “The partnership will allow us to focus even more on mobile devices and address new users throughout Europe.” A spokesperson tells me that DT does “not at the moment” have plans to expand this to the U.S.
For Deutsche Telekom, this is part of the carrier’s bigger strategy to partner with big-name tech companies to build out services, rather than trying to develop non-core services in-house.
“Airbnb is a pioneer and trailblazer in the sharing economy. The concept perfectly reflects our brand promise, ‘Life is for sharing’,” says Niek-Jan van Damme, a board member at Deutsche Telekom overseeing innovation. “Through our partnership, we can give our customers a great benefit with the 30-euro voucher.”
The wider context is that DT late last year outlined this strategy along with announcing a new, $620 million fund for strategic investments in third party companies. But both DT and Airbnb confirm to me that it is not investing in Airbnb. “There is no investment,” an Airbnb spokesperson says.
“This is a strategical partnership. We did not invest in Airbnb,” the DT spokesperson also confirms, also noting that the companies “not talking about financial agreements. But I can tell you that both companies see this as a very interesting cooperation.”
To date, Airbnb has disclosed nearly $800 million in funding.
Coincidentally, DT also invests in Airbnb competitor 9flats. “We are still investing in 9flats. But we do not see any conflict here,” the spokesperson says. “We see the Sharing Economy as a growth field and want to participate on different levels. Further on 9flats mainly focuses on customers in Germany and Western Europe. Airbnb has a more international approach and addresses all the countries in our footprint. Therefore they are the perfect partner to do a promotion in all our markets.”
The Airbnb app will start to be preinstalled on all Android devices sold by DT from this spring. The countries covered in DT’s footprint in Europe are Albania, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Updated with more comment and detail from Airbnb and Deutsche Telekom.