Airbnb has added Hindi and over 60 native languages to its site [Credit: Travel + Leisure India]

Airbnb identifies Hindi and other native languages as key booking drivers

India: Airbnb has announced it is integrating Hindi into its platform and doubling the number of languages available in which hosts and guests can utilise Airbnb. 

The reasoning for introducing Hindi is to make the platform accessible to a wider demographic of travellers, including four billion speakers of 62 languages who will be able to use their preferred native tongue on the site. Airbnb already offers more than seven million accommodations and 40,000 experiences or activities and the hope is that this will increase further as more languages are added to the platform.

In a press statement, Airbnb said: “From Albanian to Zulu, we want everyone to feel welcome on Airbnb, no matter what language they speak. With these new languages, we’re working to bring economic opportunity to even more hosts, and making it easier for more guests to experience travel that is local, authentic and unique.”

In June, Airbnb revealed it had doubled its marketing spend in India, after plans to expand in Singapore, where its regional Asia-Pacific headquarters are situated, were knocked by regulatory restrictions on short-term rentals. As such, it reported that there are now more than 45,000 more rental listings in India than when it launched in the country three years ago, and it now counts 1.8 million Indian users on its platform database.

Meanwhile, an Airbnb survey was published in July last year about the direct economic impact it had had on India in 2018, which revealed the following:

  • Airbnb brought in close to $150 million to India as a direct result of its business ventures in the country.
  • The total estimated guest spend in India in 2018 was $120 million, with guests spending about $61 per day during their stay. 
  • Hosts at Airbnb India welcomed 800,000 guests throughout last year, with total earnings reaching around $120 million. 

In June, it was revealed by Asia-Pacific (APAC) regional director Siew Kum Hong that Airbnb was planning “aggressive” investments in India in order to grow its presence in the regional Asian market.

Only last month, Airbnb global policy head Chris Lehane said that India was a top-three market priority for the company and that there had been communication with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote the Indian culture and traditions as attractive travel propositions for incoming travellers. According to him, key areas to prioritise were supporting domestic travel and boosting tourism activities in North East India, as well as equipping the local workforce with skills in technology to help them boost their hosting revenue.

It is an increasingly visible trend that local and native languages are being seen as key drivers in the travel and tourism space to drive bookings, particularly in India where less than 20 per cent of the country’s population is reported to be able to converse in some degree in English.

Major tech firms such as Amazon have already pursued this intently, after it revealed its voice monitoring offering Alexa is introducing a multilingual mode in India that will allow users to switch the conversation between the Hindi and English languages at the same time.

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