|Airbnb poised to build up brand and supply pipeline in Asia.|
Wednesday, 16th October 2013
Source : Web in Travel
Airbnb's expansion in Asia continues apace; its head for PR and social media, Lena Sonnichsen, is moving from Hamburg to Singapore effective November 1, and it has appointed country managers in Korea and Japan, and is scouting for a head in Australia.
Sonnichsen, in Singapore ahead of her move, said, “It’s no secret that Airbnb and Asia is a good combination and we’re exploring the potential and it’s no point us saying that we are committed if the communications position is based out of Europe.”
She said that three priority markets were Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo. “Sydney is a huge travel market, both inbound and outbound. Seoul, like no other city anywhere, is embracing the sharing economy – the mayor has publicly declared that he believes in the sharing economy and wants to help companies grow because he believes they make the city a better place.
“It’s the first city anywhere where there is political and regulatory will to do something about the sharing economy.”
With Tokyo, Airbnb hopes that with Olympics 2020, it will be able to replicate the same success it had with the London Olympics. “There is so much demand for Tokyo and there’s very little supply and with the Olympics, that’s huge news for Tokyo – we saw huge growth out of the London Olympics.”
Since its launch in 2008, Airbnb has crossed the 10 million guest nights mark, with five million guests being chalked up this year alone. Paris surpassed New York six months ago as its largest market.
Asked which city in Asia had the potential to surpass Paris, Sonnichsen said, “Tokyo has the potential.”
Other than building out supply – out of Airbnb’s 500,000 listings worldwide, 50,000 are in Asia – the company will also look to build brand awareness in Asia where it is not as well known as it is in Europe and the US.
With a brand built mainly through word of mouth and PR, having a key communications position based in Asia is critical to raising awareness in the region. “We have so many good stories to share,” said Sonnichsen. “Just yesterday, I got a call from a Japanese TV crew who wanted to do a story on “Trust and the sharing economy”, and wanted to find out if there were people who’d met and gotten married through Airbnb – and we have such stories.”