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A Test Drive Through Death Valley? Audi And Airbnb Are Going To Make It Happen

Airbnb will start accepting bookings for the experience on September 18.

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Audi has created a trip for sportscar enthusiasts with a need for speed and an appreciation of modern architecture in partnership with Airbnb. A select few will be able to book three-day getaways at a stylish abode way out in the remote Nevada desert where they be given the keys to an Audi R8 V10 Coupe that they can drive down endless straightaways and across dry lake beds pretty much as fast as they want under the supervision of a professional driving instructor. The experience is being promoted via "Desolation," a commercial created by Venables Bell & Partners that breaks online today before making its broadcast debut during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 18.

Audi has always been a big proponent of the test drive as the ultimate way to market its vehicles, Loren Angelo, Audi vice president of marketing, says, pointing out that the brand already makes it possible for drivers to hit the track in its sportscars at California's Sonoma Raceway. But this desert test drive is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity "where consumers not only get to experience the all-new R8, they get to experience it in a beautiful environment and really put the car through its paces with the luxury of having a professional instructor who can really help them understand the technology in the vehicle, giving them a better experience and a chance to push the car with someone in place who can really tell them how to take it to the next level."

Airbnb was the obvious partner for this project, according to Angelo, given the brand's expertise in bringing new experiences to consumers and its reputation as a disruptor of the hospitality industry. "The fascinating thing about working very closely with the marketing team at Airbnb was how engaged they were," Angelo says. "They have the same approach we do—thinking about how their brand can be seen as progressive and unique."

While Airbnb had to find Audi luxury accommodations that would suit the expectations of the Audi customer, Airbnb also had to provide a place to stay in a location that allowed the kind of high-octane test drives Audi had in mind—the R8 can reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. "The speed limitations in many parts of the world don’t necessarily allow for that," Angelo notes.

Airbnb pitched a number of properties, and Audi chose an architecturally impressive abode in Death Valley near Scotty's Junction, Nevada. "It doesn't actually have an address. You can only find it via coordinates," Angelo says. "It's actually on a dry lake bed."

Airbnb will accept a total of seven bookings for the three-day stay and ultimate driving experience—one per day for seven days beginning on September 18 when the listing will appear on the Airbnb site at 6 p.m. PDT. The cost to rent the Death Valley house is $610 per night, and in addition to getting behind the wheel of the R8, which will be parked in the driveway, guests (the house can comfortably hold four or five people) can enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings and gourmet meals prepared by a personal chef.

Audi plans to share the stories of those who take the desert vacay/test drive through its social media outlets, though plans for what will be shared are loose at the moment. "A lot of it is going to come down to the individual—how comfortable they feel with that but also what type of experiences they want to have," Angelo says. "We're really thrilled to start to see who will be booking the experience and curating something that's special for them."

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