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Airbnb plans “aggressive investments” in China and India

China / India: Airbnb will be making “aggressive investments” in emerging markets like China and India after a huge spike in guests and listing numbers in both countries from 2017 to 2018.

The homesharing platform’s reasoning for last year’s 131 per cent growth in guests in China, and 65 per cent in India, was a surge in domestic travel in these markets. What’s more, the countries are attracting growing numbers of international travelers.

Airbnb regional director for the Asia-Pacific region, Siew Kum Hong, told Skift: “In 2019, we will double our marketing investment in India to drive awareness of Airbnb across the country and reach millions of potential guests.

“We are also working to integrate more local payment methods [in India] by the end of this year,” he added.

Three years ago, travellers from China accounted for 66 per cent of Airbnb’s guests whereas last year, that figure had risen to 91 per cent. Meanwhile, in India, 78 per cent of its guests last year were Indian travellers, compared with 53 per cent in 2015.

Airbnb’s head of communications for Asia-Pacific, Jake Wilczynski, declined to reveal the absolute number of guests it hosted in China and India last year, however he disclosed that China was now Airbnb’s top destination market in the continent.

Both countries are also home to large numbers of millennials (up to 410 million 15-27 year olds), which account for a crucial cornerstone of Airbnb’s bookers. Roughly 60 per cent of all guests who booked on Airbnb between 2008 and 2016 were millennials, while more than 40 per cent of all guests from India last year were reportedly people under 30 years old.

However, although more locals are choosing Airbnb for domestic travel accommodation, the company claimed that outbound numbers from China grew 80 per cent last year, and from India, it was 65 per cent.

Listings grew 106 per cent in China and 52 per cent in India, according to the rental platform.

Hong said: “There are now more than one million listings in Asia-Pacific. We have a goal to bring one billion users onto our platform in the next ten years, and emerging markets like China and India — the new centres of influence in global tourism — will be the engines of our growth as we work to meet that goal.”

If the projections are correct, 40 per cent of the one billion users, or 400 million, will be from emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America by the year 2030.

Across the world, Airbnb is facing up to a number of emerging global rivals, such as Tujia in China and Vancouver-based Cozystay, a vacation rental platform which serves Chinese travellers worldwide.

Cozystay CEO Galen Cheng told Skift: “China has a huge amount of housing, and 22 percent of those properties are vacant, which means that the option of listing those properties as vacation rentals is a good way for the owner to earn on their property investment.”

Airbnb is also competing with OYO in both China and India, after the latter’s launch of its OYO home-share brand OYO Living and its recent funding round.

In India, Taj Hotels recently launched Ama Trails and Stays and it plans to scale up the product to the first 100 units by the end of next year.

Despite this, Hong says that Airbnb will continue to focus on growing and supporting its communities in both China and India.