Skift Take

The real investment for Airbnb lies in its people — the host community and their ability to deliver unique experiences to guests.

The overall nights booked on Airbnb in India have grown by almost 70% in 2022 as compared to pre-pandemic levels while domestic nights grew by 110%.

“We have seen more than double growth in bookings for international travels during the January-March quarter this year when compared to the corresponding period last year,” Airbnb’s General Manager for India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Amanpreet Singh Bajaj told Skift’s Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia in the latest episode of the Skift India Travel Podcast.

The company in June signed a memorandum of understanding with India’s Ministry of Tourism to promote the country as a sought-after tourism destination and shine a spotlight on its cultural heritage. It also launched a dedicated ‘Soul of India’ microsite that showcases a range of heritage stays across the country. 

“Destination promotion is a big part of this partnership. We don’t want to just focus on India’s tourism hotspots but also work with underserved communities and regions, train people there so that we are able to position India on the global map holistically,” said Bajaj.

As part of the partnership, Airbnb is also offering support to hosts in untapped tourist areas, assisting them in promoting their homestays, building host capacity, and fostering a culture of responsible hosting.

“We are sharing travel insights and homestay insights with the Ministry of Tourism so it leads to a more informed ecosystem in terms of responsible tourism policies and training requirements,” he added.

Over the years, Airbnb inked deals with the tourism departments of Goa, Maharashtra and a few Northeastern states to boost hinterland and homestay tourism and enable capacity building of hospitality entrepreneurs in the states. 

“When we work with the government, there is a growing consciousness in terms of creating policies that are easy in terms of registration requirements for a host so that it attracts more people to undertake this micro entrepreneurial opportunity,” said Bajaj.

Several states which have adopted homestay policies are now encouraging more people to open up their homes to the world. 

“We are working with state governments to share global best practices and create awareness about policies as part of our collaboration with the tourism ministry for our hosts to comply with the requirements from respective states,” he said.

Empowering Women Hosts

Micro-entrepreneurial hosts on Airbnb, who self-identify as women, collectively earned over $12 million last year. 

In fact, the company recently partnered with Sheroes — a New Delhi-based women’s networking and enabling platform — to grow its community of women hosts in India. It also has a partnership with the Self Employed Women’s Association of India, which represents about 2.1 million self-employed women.

“The idea is to create more awareness within these groups in terms of the benefits of hosting on how to use the platform and create micro entrepreneurial opportunities at a grassroot level,” said Bajaj.

And quite often, the income which women hosts earn through hosting on Airbnb surpasses the annual income from their traditional means of livelihood.

Other Takeaways from the Episode

  1. Since November last year, twice as many prospective hosts are now matching with superhosts and receiving personalized guidance as they navigate the process of becoming first-time hosts. 
  1. Travel is increasingly led by millennials and Gen Zs who value experiential travel by making responsible choices, tread off-the-beaten paths, and exercise flexibility in planning their travels.
  1. Airbnb, with its platform and the use of technology, creates the perfect avenue for both hospitality and entrepreneurship — passion points that are intrinsic to Indian culture.
  1. With features like identity verification, background checks, and round-the-clock helplines in multiple languages, Airbnb ensures the safety of both guests and hosts.
  1. Tourism is now spreading beyond the hotspots where only a few cities or neighborhoods would benefit from the tourism dollars. Communities have taken center stage, which contribute towards supporting the regional microeconomics and even the national economy.

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Tags: airbnb, india, skift podcast

Photo credit: Travel is increasingly led by millennials and Gen Zs who value experiential travel. Pictured is an Airbnb property at Sakleshpur in Karnataka. Alka Jha / Unsplash

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