SickKids creates Airbnb listing to help fundraising efforts

Who: Toronto’s The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), No Fixed Address and Airbnb.

What: An Airbnb listing offering an uncomfortable stay inside an overcrowded, noisy, stressful room in the hospital’s world-class—but financially challenged—Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

When & Where: The listing is live on Airbnb now and people actually can book three hours inside the room for $2,392—a number extrapolated from the $16,744 cost to operate a four-patient room in the PICU. This is a PR-driven initiative, however, meaning the real goal is awareness beyond the money raised or the relatively small number of people who participate.

How: Earned media stories about the Airbnb experience, boosted by celebrity participation from the likes of Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet (see his video below) and Bachelor in Paradise stars Kevin Wendt and Astrid Loch. There’s also some paid social and digital pushing people to the Airbnb listing.

So the room is real? It’s a replica of the PICU in an area of the hospital no longer used for clinical care. The goal here is to demonstrate the challenges of running the hospital without intruding on the actual operations.

Why: “An Eye Opening Stay At SickKids” is part of the hospital’s ambitious “SickKids Vs Limits” campaign to raise $1.3 billion to rebuild a new hospital. The hospital is world renowned but some of the infrastructure dates back to 1949.

“For one night, you’ll receive state-of-the-art care while you share a room with up to 6 others,” reads the Airbnb listing. “However, there are only three single beds so four guests will have to sleep on chairs. There is no TV and WIFI is spotty… be sure to bring reading material.”

From the client: “[T]o demonstrate the extreme need, SickKids is going to extreme measures with this innovative marketing partnership…. The SickKids Airbnb aims to shine a light on our biggest challenge—the building—to inspire Canadians to help us build a re-imagined SickKids of the future.” —Lori Davison, vice-president, brand strategy and communications, SickKids Foundation.

And we quote: “Airbnb believes in strengthening local communities, which is why we are partnering with SickKids and supporting their fight for the health and well-being of children. Thousands of Canadian families rely on the committed health team at SickKids every day, and we’re hoping to do our part by using Airbnb’s platform to raise awareness about the reality of the SickKids PICU and the urgent need for a new hospital.”—Airbnb spokesperson Alexandra Dagg.

David Brown