At the ITB Berlin Convention on Thursday, Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, spoke on the subject of “The Evolution Of Airbnb and How Global Travel is Changing”. ITB Berlin News spoke to him backstage to find out more about a business model that achieved phenomenal success during its first decade in business. We started by asking about the accommodation group’s key markets?
Airbnb is in 81,000 different cities; that being said, we are going deeper into certain key markets. I have taken on a second title – Chairman of Airbnb China. We have an office in Beijing with more than 150 fulltime employees. China is a big, competitive market, so we’ve been investing a lot into our success there and are seeing a lot of good results too.
What about the challenge of doing business in cities like Berlin, which has banned the rental of entire apartments to tourists through Airbnb and its competitors?
In Berlin, where it has been very strict, we’re seeing positive movement – the backdrop is that 400 cities around the world have changed their policies to accommodate house sharing, with guard rails of course.
WE ARE GOING DEEPER INTO CERTAIN KEY MARKETS
We certainly want to be a good partner to cities that we are building a lot of business in. Rural stays are a growing area for Airbnb, how is business in this space? In rural areas we have actually added capacity that really didn’t exist. In a lot of rural areas there simply are no hotels, there is no place to stay, so people are putting their homes up on Airbnb. Last year, across 11 countries in rural areas, we drove $1 bn in visitor stays. I think this is a great way to help people not just visit the iconic destinations like Paris and Rome, but also get out into the countryside and have those kind of travel experiences that are really unique.