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The homestay firm, which was founded in 2008, is present in 191 countries and in May 2016 launched its India platform, where it has 54,000 listings across 110 cities. (REUTERS)
The homestay firm, which was founded in 2008, is present in 191 countries and in May 2016 launched its India platform, where it has 54,000 listings across 110 cities. (REUTERS)

Airbnb counts India among its top three fastest growing EMs

  • Airbnb’s Greg Greeley says Europe and North America are the largest markets for us but from an emerging economy standpoint, India is in the top three and growing one of the fastest
  • India’s popularity on the platform is growing, with Kerala emerging among the top 20 global destinations for 2020 in a study by Airbnb

JAIPUR : India is among the three fastest-growing emerging markets for Airbnb and will continue to see more investments from the online homestay company on the back of globetrotting Indian millennials, a top company official said.

“Europe and North America are the largest markets for us but from an emerging (economy) standpoint, India is in the top three and growing one of the fastest. I expect it to continue to grow for quite some time as a growing number of people here are discovering travel—both domestic and internationally," Greg Greeley, president of homes, Airbnb, said in an interview.

India’s popularity on the platform is also growing, with Kerala emerging among the top 20 global destinations for 2020 in a study by Airbnb. In fact, given the growing traction for the North-East, Airbnb has tied up with the Nagaland government and will be the accommodation partner for the Hornbill festival next month.

Airbnb, founded in 2008, is present in 191 countries and launched its platform in May 2016 in India, where it has 54,000 listings across 110 cities. The company, which offers a range of accommodation options—from apartments and villas to castles, treehouses and bed-and-breakfasts—is the brainchild of three friends, Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk. It started out as an idea to turn their loft into an area that could fit air mattresses, and offer breakfast, to host travellers coming for a design conference in San Francisco. Chesky is now the chief executive officer and Gebbia the chief product officer. Eleven years on, the company says it is ready for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2020. It has also announced plans to enter the transportation segment, and in January this year hired aviation industry professional Fred Reid as the global head of transportation. This, Airbnb believes, is crucial for it to emerge as an end-to-end travel experience provider across categories.

“The big picture for us is the end-to-end journey and if we can bring people powered experiences that are unique, authentic, local and not mass produced," he said.

“We are positioning ourselves to help our community on the entire trip—from the inspiration of where would I like to go to how do I get there, where do I stay and what do I do when I get there. Also, we would like to help people on their return and that checking back into their own home is as easy as it is to check into a place on your holiday," Greeley said.

Besides accommodation, the platform also offers experiences which are unique to each region such as food tours, biking tours, pottery classes and museum tours, among others.

“We continue to grow the homestay but we also think about how that can be the anchor for all the other parts of the travel experience," he said, adding that “one of the most successful experiences in India booked by guests which sold out very quickly was a thali with food from different parts of the country".

Greeley was in Jaipur to unveil a new heritage accommodation on the Airbnb platform—the Gudliya Suite in City Palace of Jaipur. The palace was built in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of the city of Jaipur, and continues to be home to Jaipur’s royal family. Gudliya Suite is priced at $8,000 per night.

The writer was in Jaipur at the invitation of Airbnb


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