|New Players Giving New Spin to the Term 'Accommodation'.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Saturday, 28th July 2012
Talking to my hotelier friends in Asia, I am amazed by how many of them are still unaware of players like Airbnb and 9flats and not to mention, the rest that came along in the new wave of businesses offering different styles of accommodation for travellers.
Across Asia now, we have Roomorama which has set up base in Singapore and travelmob about to be launched, and Airbnb (in particular) and 9flats expanding across the region.
In China alone, there are countless clones and some of them gaining more traction than others – Airizu and Tujia, which recently received funding from backers like Homeaway and Ctrip.
It is a space not to be ignored because not only does it give travellers choices – and interesting ones because there’s a new kind of traveller looking for new kinds of local experiences – but it also gives homeowners flexibility to “monetize” their assets as it were.
A travel friend in Singapore, who is about to relocate and couldn’t break his rental lease earlier than he wanted, told me how he put his apartment up for Airbnb to try cover his costs and found himself inundated with requests that he’s now filled up his apartment with back-to-back customers for two months.
“What I found was that the faster I responded, the higher my listing went and so more requests came in,” he said at which point he added, “Sorry, I have to respond to this request.”
Another expatriate friend, living in Singapore, is thinking of buying a place in London and working out how to let it out via sites like Airbnb so he can cover the mortgage.
The social Internet is ultimately about giving power to the people and it seems with this model, the power is in the people’s hands to let their homes out to whom they like when they like and for however much.
The hotel model is too rigid to allow that kind of empowerment and choice.