Varsha Rao shares key challenges Airbnb recognises in order to tap the Chinese market

By on April 25, 2016 | Events

Sharing economy is kicking off well. It’s a buzz word and everyone seems to like talking about it. Players in travel and hospitality segment have racked their brains and have come up with great disruptions ahead of us. Airbnb has established its market well in the west. It definitely plans to head east now. Given that China is creating a surge in the travel sector and the trend among Chinese travellers to try something new is scaling up; Airbnb has some really special plans for the APAC market especially China. PhocusWright India saw to it that Varsha Rao; Head of Global Operations, Airbnb spill some beans there.

airbnb varsha rao

Varsha Rao, Head of Global Operations for Airbnb

(Image: Phocuswright)

South East Asia is an upcoming hot plate for travellers; both inbound and outbound. International brands are trying their level best to penetrate this sector here. Airbnb has similar plans. But definitely, they come with a certain level of alterations in the existing model that the west had adopted. The whole cultural cynosure points to a lot of loopholes or in better words a chance to experiment more in this geography.

Few of the challenges that the Operational head talked about are-

Product differentiation

While Airbnb created ripples with the existing model in the west, few tweaks were seen to be unavoidable in this region. The product that rolled out in America or other European countries found a hard time scaling heights in China. The unavailability of Facebook as a sign in option made them rethink their existing options. Hence, they incorporated WeChat as an alternate sign-in option with the travellers booking from China mainland.

More adaptable model

Airbnb realises the point that the entire culture is exploding with experiments now. The fact that people are still opening up to them is a fact that validates that there is a huge untapped market for the international players. It would be a tad bit difficult, but the sharing economy giant doesn’t budge off and is taking measures to penetrate the potential market by sticking to what they do best. Educating people with this model’s working is the only way forward for it. Both guests and hosts would be educated to bring out the best of hospitality experience

Indian market: trust and security issues

Sharing economy is accelerating here but hasn’t reached its full potential. Domestic players like Stayzilla have been preparing a good flower bed for the model to be seen as adoptable and adaptable. Airbnb has also expressed similar plans for the Indian market. The important measures that are taken include-

  • A review based model where nothing goes unnoticed. The smallest of the details are picked up as a review and are acted upon. So there is possibly no way where anything can go wrong.
  • Airbnb double checks the IDs and verifies them so that there are no loose ends from their side. This ensures that the travellers feel safe with the host and vice versa.
  • Airbnb has around the clock customer support which comes as an additional help to the travellers or the host in case they fear that their property might get damaged.

Bridging the gap in customer experience when sharing a home and when renting a hotel space

People tend to land up in a hotel because of the kind of experience the stay offers. Sharing economy is a genuinely exotic experience for anyone who wants to know more about different cultures and has that quench for knowledge. To match sharing economy with the same level of that of the hotel, educating the hosts would be the first step; says Airbnb. Sharing economy is a combination of a unique experience and personal touch. Both provided to the best of their abilities is what is should be aimed at. That’s what is going to make Airbnb stand out.

APAC is ready to grow rapidly and China will see the evolution of new age travellers. Know more what other industry experts discussed at Phocuswright India here.


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