Economic review

Airbnb increases presence in China

2017-09-09 14:58:00 (Beijing Time)         China Daily

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Airbnb users experience the natural beauty of the outdoors in London without having to step outside a home because it contains hundreds of trees and plants. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Airbnb Inc, a U.S.-based home-sharing service provider, will continue to grow its presence in China, hiring local employees and working closely with the government to further tap the potential of the country's fast-growing inbound travel market.

China is one of the most important markets for Airbnb, and the company will continue to develop the nation's market, providing better services and products for Chinese consumers, as well as speeding up localization efforts here, said Chris Lehane, head of global policy and public affairs of Airbnb.

"Currently, Airbnb offers 120,000 active listings in China," Lehane said. There have been "2.5 million guest arrivals at listings within China for all time, a 287 percent year-on-year growth rate."

The home-sharing player has established an engineering base in China, its only such operation outside North America, to adapt quickly and meet Chinese customers' peculiar requirements.

In the next year, Airbnb will double its investment in China, triple the size of the local workforce, continue to hire local engineers, and strengthen cooperation with the Chinese government, according to the company.

Lehane said Airbnb supports the Chinese government's positive attitude toward the sharing economy and will respond positively.

At present, Airbnb has formed partnerships with Shanghai Pudong district, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. By providing training programs and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, Airbnb helps those regions benefit from the sharing economy with local tourism development and cultural communication.

In March, it announced it would adopt a new Chinese name "Aibiying", which means "welcome each other with love," and stepped up efforts to localize its services in China. It integrates Chinese payment methods including Alipay, and offers its customers the ability to log in through WeChat.

"Our approach in China has historically been outbound travel, which means people from China travel to different parts of the world … An interesting phenomenon is that over 80 percent of Airbnb Chinese guests are millennials," he said, adding that the company will put more effort into exploring the inbound travel market.

From 2008 to date, there have been more than 5.3 million Chinese guest arrivals at Airbnb listings all over the world, and there was a 142 percent increase in outbound travel on the Airbnb platform last year. Moreover, Airbnb generated economic activity value worth 2.1 billion yuan ($325 million) for China last year.

Founded in August 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb is a major player in the international sharing economy, currently offering 4 million listings across 191 countries. Since 2008, there have been more than 200 million total guest arrivals at Airbnb listings around the world.

Ma Tianjiao, an analyst with the Beijing-based internet consultancy Analysys, said nowadays, Chinese travelers are willing to try something different during a trip.

"They are not satisfied with hotels. Home-sharing platforms offer diverse living experiences."