This story is an excerpt. Read the full feature in the July/August issue of Dot Property Magazine
Airbnb has been a hit in the Asia-Pacific region and is now one of its fastest growing markets as both guests and those with space to share have embraced the service. AirbnbÂ attributes its success in Southeast Asia to the incredible array of experiences, stories and cultures people want to explore.
âWe know that people all over the world want a new kind of travel. Theyâre no longer satisfied with the same cookie-cutter experiences that have been offered for years, or going to the same tourist traps that everyoneâs already seen,â Robin Kwok, Country Manager of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong & Taiwan, explains. âPeople, especially millennials, want unique and authentic experiences; the kind that allow you to really get under the skin of a place, discover its hidden gems and understand its real character. In other words, people want to live like locals.â
And live like locals they did. Nearly 11 million guests utilised Airbnb to book rooms in Asia (excluding Australia and New Zealand) last year and the firm recorded an astonishing 177 percent growth in the region. Malaysia and Thailand proved to be particularly popular with inbound travellers. A total of 700,000 people stayed in Malaysia last year using Airbnb while Thailand welcomed 774,000 inbound guests via the service.
The company’s success in Malaysia has not gone unnoticed and there have already been talks between Airbnb and the Malaysian governmentÂ as the two look to create a beneficial partnership. The ultimate goal of Airbnb is to guarantee everyone can benefit from home sharing including the countries themselves.
âWeâre having meaningful and productive conversations with the Malaysian authorities, who are excited by the prospect of home sharing and the benefits Airbnb is already bringing to tourism in Malaysia,â Kwok notes. âWe look forward to working with them to develop a clear and simple framework that allows everyone to get the best out of home sharing and promote Malaysia as a global destination.â
Creating an authentic experience
Until recently, Airbnb has been all about homes, letting travellers see cities through the eyes of a local, by staying in their homes and experiencing an authentic side to a local neighbourhood. That’s all changed with the launch of Trips – an enhanced product – which offers guests not just Homes, but also authentic local Experiences and insider GuidebooksÂ all in one place, allowing travellers to immerse themselves completely during every aspect of their trip. Experiences – of which there are now 800 live across over 20 cities – are handcrafted activities led by passionate, local experts which offer unprecedented access to communities and places you would never otherwise come across.
âWe want to make this process seamless and simple, and make sure that the trip itself is memorable, authentic and unique. Thatâs why Trips is such an important milestone for us; weâre taking that first step to move Airbnb beyond the concept of home sharing, with Experiences and Places now helping travellers see the true character of a city, through the people who live there,â Kwok says.
And Airbnb isnât stopping with Trips. As travelling evolves, both in Southeast Asia and internationally, it wants to find new ways to simplify how plans are made.
âOur ultimate goal is to take this even further, and for people to be able to research, plan and book every aspect of their trip through the Airbnb app, becoming an end-to-end hospitality solution,â Kwok proclaims. âAt the moment, people have to go to lots of different places to research and book different elements of their trip â flights, accommodation, what to do when they reach their destination.â