- Airbnb and 23andMe have forged a partnership to help people interested in traveling to study their family heritage, with each company promoting such trips, according to an announcement on the Airbnb site.
- The 23andMe website will suggest trips to one's homeland with their ancestry report, with recommendations on Airbnb Homes and Experiences in these locations. A person that discovers they are of Swedish descent will be linked to experiences and rentals in Sweden, for instance.
- Additionally, Airbnb has created dedicated pages aligned to 23andMe's genetic populations. The home-sharing site has made it easier for people to plan heritage trips with suggestions on where to stay, as well as what to do to experience the culture.
While a marriage between a genetics firm and a travel site sounds unlikely, the brands have tapped into what they say is a growing consumer interest in heritage travel at a time when interest in genetic tests is high.
The use of direct-to-consumer genetic tests has been expanding with more than 250 players now in the market and sales projected to exceed $1 billion by 2020, up from $300 million in 2014, according to a KPMG study.
More than half of 23andMe customers purchase genetic kits to learn about their ancestral histories, according to the company. This desire to understand one's history is also driving interest in heritage travel, Airbnb found in an April 2019 study. The research, which included feedback from 8,000 people across eight countries, revealed that 89% of people in India have traveled to a country based on their ancestry, 69% of French people have done so, and more than half of Americans have made ancestral voyages.
The news is the latest example of how DNA analysis is being leveraged by marketers to create more personalized products and marketing at a time when consumers are demanding greater personalization and are willing to trade data for it. The use of DNA and other bodily data to support personalization strategies is in its early days and has some challenges to overcome, such as privacy concerns and an untested marketplace. L'Oréal revealed a partnership with microbial genomics company uBiome at the South by Southwest conference this spring to enable consumers to submit cheek-swab samples to determine a user's skin health and offer more personalized product choices. However, uBiome has since been embroiled in a series of controversies, including the company being raided by the FBI and its co-founders being put on administrative leave.
As genetic tests gain in popularity, additional marketers are likely to look for ways to tie this data and interest into marketing more personalized experiences to consumers.