By Lauren Lee, Account Manager, Hoffman Hong Kong
Ten years ago, the thought of vacationing in a stranger’s empty home was unthinkable, and downright strange.
And yet, Airbnb has now become a verb (“Let’s Airbnb for our Aspen ski trip”) alongside brands such as Google, Kleenex and Skype, as the company boasts over 3,000,000 lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries. With an emphasis on sustainable travel and authentic local experiences, Airbnb provides the experience and lifestyle that millennial travellers seek.
The San Francisco-based company is valued at US$31 billion as of August 2017 (image source: Unsplash)
World’s largest hotel chain
“You can consider us the largest hotel chain the world,” said Marvin Ma, public affairs manager of Airbnb Hong Kong and Taiwan, who hosted a sharing session with the Hoffman APAC team. “With mounting climate changes in recent years, we want our future generations to see what we can see today when they travel. Therefore by revitalizing underutilized resources — idle houses — around the world, we are promoting sustainable tourism that is beneficial to both travellers and local hosts.”
Heated pool and hot tub of an Aspen, Colorado, listing on Airbnb (image source: Airbnb)
We are no strangers to the concept of a sharing economy, as we co-work and co-live with other businesses and individuals. Today, “NOwnership” is on the rise among younger generations as they increasingly value experiences over ownership of goods. According to the Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, millennials are reluctant to purchase items such as cars, music and luxury goods. This is not surprising, as the past few years saw the rise and emergence of apps that cater to services from rentals of suitcases to luxury apparel, car sharing and carpooling. Against this backdrop, taking over a stranger’s home for your vacation suddenly becomes the norm as travellers opt for Airbnbs over hotels.
Emergence of tech democratizing tourism
“Airbnb is democratizing tourism by helping regular people benefit from the industry. 30 years ago it was considered a privilege to travel — today, with the low costs of lodging, people can afford to travel and see the world. Through our platform, hosts can support their homes and supplement their income,” said Ma.
Marvin Ma, public affairs manager of Airbnb Hong Kong and Taiwan, hosted a sharing session with the Hoffman APAC team through Lifesize.
Thanks to recent developments in low-cost carriers and budget airlines leading to massive growth in international travel, the tourism industry has expanded across the globe and paved Airbnb’s path to unicorn status. “I never imagined that I would one day work in the travel and tourism industry,” said Ma, whose career started in journalism. “However, more than 10 per cent of the global economy today is related to travel and tourism, with one in 10 jobs in the world related to tourism. Without a doubt, this is a sector to watch out for.
“Our team at Airbnb is excited to take the sharing economy to the next level, beyond the sharing of assets, but also local knowledge and experiences,” said Ma.