Home / Travel / Center

Airbnb sees China as next big pie

Xinhua | Updated: 2015-09-13 14:01

"China has the fastest growth in the world," Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and CTO of Airbnb told Xinhua Thursday on the sidelines of Summer Davos in China's northeastern coastal city of Dalian.

The number of Chinese who use Airbnb for overseas trips increased seven-fold last year.

"That is very impressive and far faster than any other country in the world. We just want to double down on it," Blecharczyk said.

China has the most outbound tourists in the world. In 2014, Chinese tourists spent more than 160 billion U.S. dollars overseas, one report estimated.

"China is still growing. There is a huge opportunity which we want to invest more in," said the 32-year-old man who started the company in 2008 with his two roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia.

Airbnb announced its entrance into China on Aug. 19 and has established cooperation with a major Chinese travel website

Airbnb raised 1.5 billion U.S. dollars recently and some of the money was from Chinese investors, including Sequoia China and China Broadband Capital, Blecharczyk said.

"The purpose of having Chinese investors is that they know the China market best. The partners are helping us understand what the edge should be," he said.

The company has launched a Chinese version of its website and is preparing to open an office in Beijing.

The company has invested a lot in its presence in China, integrating with Chinese social networking services WeChat and Weibo and opening payment access through China UnionPay and Alipay.

"The website is for the real people buying the offline experience, that is the online-to-offline. The real challenge is the offline," Blecharczyk said.

"Beyond that, what people care about most are the local experience and personal style," he said.

Blecharczyk has booked, through Airbnb, an apartment, in a Hutong house, for his stay in Beijing next week.

The apartment is owned by a couple of professionals, who might not know their coming guest is the co-founder of Airbnb.

Blecharczyk has visited China for many times. He stayed at many places in Shanghai's former French concession area. His own place in San Francisco has been rented by two Shanghai girls. In Beijing, he prefers to live in Hutongs.

"It's a unique Chinese experience that you will never have if you stay at a hotel," he said.

Airbnb was born when the three founders did not have enough money for their rent. In summer 2007, the rent of their apartment was raised by 25 percent. Blecharczyk said it was too expensive and decided to move out. The other two wanted to stay, but they just quit their jobs and did not have the money either.

There was going to be an international design conference in San Francisco, therefore many hotels were sold out. They had the idea of renting out the spare bedroom to designers who needed a place to stay.

"In October 2007, three designers stayed for a weekend. They had a good time," Blecharczyk said.

Blecharczyk said Airbnb users are mostly people in their twenties to thirties, a generation of, as he describes, being "curious." About 40 percent of those people are willing to spend as much as 20 percent of their income on travel, he said.

He sees business opportunities in young people and he believes Airbnb has brought a new spirit to them.

The homeowners started to have business experiences by renting their places. Being good hosts gives them confidence in entrepreneurship, which may encourage them to have their own startup adventure.

"To embrace the adventure really means to explore the unknown, and don't be afraid just because you might get lost but actually see that as a positive thing," Blecharczyk said.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349