Airbnb has said it has high hopes for the Chinese market, as a younger generation of travellers starts to embrace the shared economy.
Speaking at an event in Tianjin this week, Airbnb’s head of global operations, Varsha Rao, told the Xinhua news agency that the traditional mould of Chinese travellers is changing, and that Airbnb is capitalising on this shift.
“We’ve seen positive signs of a developing sharing economy in China both from the consumers and the government,” she told Xinhua during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2016.
The Shanghai Daily reports that more than two million Chinese have since used the accommodation sharing site while travelling abroad since it launched in China in 2012. And Ms Rao revealed that China has become Airbnb’s fastest-growing market for outbound travel, surging 500% in 2015.
The company does have hundreds of listings within China, but Ms Rao said the most significant growth was likely to come from Chinese travelling overseas. This, she stated, is due to the rise in the number of Chinese millennials who want to experience more authentic local culture, instead of just ticking off tourist spots on a package tour.
“We call them travellers, not tourists, as the former try to meet local people and experience life there instead of just seeing sights,” she said.
Ms Rao added that Airbnb is now working with Chinese social media platforms to create new marketing campaigns for outbound Chinese travellers.
“Chinese consumers are very sophisticated now, so we must keep localising and improving our services,” she added.
And appears that Airbnb has high-level support in China; the country’s Premier, Li Keqiang, addressed the opening of the Tianjin event on Monday, saying that the shared economy offers positive opportunities for the distribution of income and the development of a stronger middle class.