Airbnb is going after the Chinese market even after Uber’s ‘sharing economy’ venture failed to get traction in the country. The US-based home-sharing platform is planning to double its investment in China – tripling the size of its local workforce – and has undergone a name change to ‘Aibiying’ which translates as the sentiment ‘welcome each other with love’.
The company managed to double its tally of Chinese listings to some 80,000 in 2016, while the number of Chinese guests spiked close to 150%. Airbnb is now looking to rollout its Airbnb Trips service – an enabler of local experiences which include the likes of concert ticket booking, restaurant reservations and excursion sign-ups – in Shanghai this year.
“There’s a whole new generation of Chinese travellers who want to see the world in a different way,” says CEO Brian Chesky. “We hope that Aibiying and our Trips product inspires them to want to travel in a way that opens doors to new people, communities and neighbourhoods across the world.”
Airbnb has been busy building those all-important local relationships. It has an agreement in place with online giant Alibaba to enable Chinese users to pay for rentals via the Alipay payments platform, plus it can boast a deal with Tencent’s WeChat messaging app. And last year, Airbnb allied with four city administrations, including tech metro Shenzhen, on tourism promotions.
Just as Uber found it tough to make headway in China – it eventually sold out to competitor Didi Chuxing after an expensive battle for market share – Airbnb doesn’t have the market to itself. A top contender is domestic outfit Tujia, which already has over 450,000 homes on its books and it backed by leading global online travel agency HomeAway.