Airbnb focuses on local residents

Airbnb, the U.S. sharing economy platform, seeks to recoup its struggling business in Thailand by turning to domestic tourism, while providing slight relief to thousands of owners on its platform at scale national.

Last year, Airbnb reported 2.5 million customers at its users’ properties in Thailand through 99,000 listings, before facing a massive drop in bookings this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, blockages and travel restrictions.

Bloomberg reported that the company recorded a 67% drop in revenue in the second quarter, down from US $ 1 billion in 2019.

The company, which plans to go public this year, does not provide specific data. But Airbnb has seen a resurgence of domestic tourism in Thailand after the lockdown.

From May 31 to June 6, the number of domestic bookings (by local residents) jumped 13% year on year.

Given that 92% of Airbnb customers in Thailand last year were from overseas, the company’s user base has likely declined significantly since the ban on international travelers in March.

“We are seeing a recovery in our business, but we are seeing our business take a different shape, from international travel to domestic travel,” said Mike Orgill, director of public policy for Asia-Pacific at Airbnb, during a briefing. media roundtable in Bangkok. “We are delighted that countries are in a position to resolve the wider Covid crisis and reopen some of these travel corridors and will see Airbnb’s business adapt to the change.”

The company has been criticized by hotel groups who accuse it of circumventing local regulations by allowing the platform to be used by tenants of homes without a hotel license.

Airbnb responded by putting pressure on the government, demanding clear regulations that would allow this new short-term rental business model without becoming a burden on its owners.

The company has worked with Thai authorities like the Department of Local Government and the Department of Community Development to promote local tourism.

He also worked with the Ministry of Tourism to provide additional accommodations for the Thailand Moto GP 2018 in Buri Ram, which coincided with a partnership between the ministry and Grab Taxi, a tech company in a similar legal limbo in Thailand.

To help those offering rentals on the platform, Airbnb has relaxed its cancellation policy, removing penalties for cancellations that previously could compromise host privileges.

The company also offers grants of $ 5,000 to its “superhosts” or hosts with high booking rates and good review rates.

Airbnb is touting the positive impact it has had for Thailand through an economic impact report published by consultancy firm Oxford Economics.

The report says that Airbnb’s guests and hosts added 43.7 billion baht to Thailand’s GDP, which was calculated based on the estimated tourism spending of its guests.

However, the report only considers gross tourism spending.

“When we refer to the spending of Airbnb customers in the study, we are not only referring to the amount spent on Airbnb, but the broader spending that customers make while staying here,” said James Lambert, director of the economic council. at Oxford Economics. “The majority of the spending came outside of rentals through the retail sector, restaurants and other non-accommodation related services.”

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