The tourism industry has always been a hot market, but the sheer success of sites like Airbnb has caught many smaller operators off guard.
Yet rather than taking market share, some operators are seeing the business opportunity to get on board the trend. The key though, is first-class hospitality, keeping a local, personal feel.
Since the Australian launch of Airbnb last year, over 2,200 Sydneysiders have played host to over 30,000 inbound guests.
Ole Ruch, Airbnb’s managing director at APAC, said the growth shows Australians are early adopters of the concept.
“When Australians travel, they tend to travel longer because of the distance; instead of going on a four day trip, they go on a four week trip. The feedback we get is that Australians are sophisticated travellers, they go to the typical tourist destinations but they want to live like locals,” Ruch said.
“Australians also tend to be highly social. They like to share experiences and tips on how and where to travel.”
Airbnb’s recent survey of its Sydney users found that 90 per cent of guests said they chose staying with a host over a hotel because they wanted to ‘live like a local’. Approximately 80 per cent of properties are located outside the 5 main Sydney hotel districts.
The survey also found that the extra income earned from hosting has allowed 48 per cent of hosts to stay in their homes, with 31 per cent stating they rely on their Airbnb income to make ends meet.
While this practice has raised questions from some local councils around Sydney, who have warned hosts that earning from Airbnb can be deemed ‘renting’ and is therefore subject to council consent, not everyone side-stepping the humble hotel is paying a host. Following the rise of Airbnb, travellers around the world are also starting to nightswap.
The platform can be used in 3 ways: the two parties swap homes at the same time, one stays at another’s house while they’re not there, or a visitor stays while the other member is also home.
Saving on accommodation means visitors have money to spend elsewhere.
SMBs in the suburbs are feeling the effect, with Airbnb finding that 46 per cent of a guest’s spending occurs in the suburbs where they stay, supporting local businesses.
Following its success in Sydney, Ruch said Airbnb will be directing its efforts to growing its presence around the country in the new year by building on its existing community of users.
“In every market, we want to find a hundred people who love us rather than a million people who kind of like us, because it’s those hundred that tend to be your best ambassadors. They’re the ones who use Airbnb the most, and tell the most friends,” Ruch said.