Skift Take

Airbnb intends to grow further in Asia-Pacific by providing what it calls the most "magical" experience. The challenge, of course, will be staying true to its core values as competition intensifies.

Airbnb has crossed one million listings across Asia-Pacific, and more than 100 million guests have checked into an Airbnb homeshare in the region, providing hosts with earnings of around $10 billion. Yet it is “still early days” of growth, said Siew Kum Hong, regional director of Airbnb Asia-Pacific, in a session at Skift Forum Asia on Monday in Singapore.

Five years ago, Asia-Pacific accounted for just a fraction of the homesharing platform’s global business, with only 100,000 listings. Despite setbacks such as strict regulations in countries such as Singapore and Japan, “look how far we’ve come,” Siew said.

Asia-Pacific will continue to be the key engine of growth for Airbnb, he added, pointing to markets such as India, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, which have huge concentrations of millennials.

Even in Japan, where Airbnb saw 80 percent of its listings wiped out overnight when the country implemented the “Minpaku” law in June last year, a $30 million investment to grow the number of hosts and guests, launched earlier this year, is “paying dividends.” Siew claimed that listings in Japan have increased to more than 50,000 to date, “as many as before and, by the end of the year, [the figure] will be bigger than at the start of last year.”

One of Airbnb’s strategies to increase listings is to diversify the range of rentals, on-boarding boutique accommodations, and serviced apartments, among others. When asked if it would onboard the major hotel chains, Siew was hesitant, saying that it’s important that Airbnb remains unrivaled as the brand offering unique, authentic local experiences.

“Our guests are looking for unique experiences — that’s why they come to Airbnb,” Siew pointed out.

Which is why Airbnb Experiences also avoids the mainstream and has done “incredibly well” in Asia-Pacific. It is offered in 350 cities in the region and expects to end the year with more than 500 cities.

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Tags: airbnb, sfa2019, skift forum asia

Photo credit: Airbnb's Siew Kum Hong being interviewed by Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore on May 27, 2019. Richard Lai / Skift

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