How Airbnb is preparing for the Summer Olympics in Brazil

Like every four years, thousands of sports enthusiasts make a pilgrimage to the Summer Olympics. But this time, many of them will not check into hotels.

Instead, they will stay in the homes of local residents.

This year, for the first time, the official partnership of the Olympic Games in alternative accommodation is concluded with a company based in San Francisco Airbnbwhose online service allows travelers to book a stay with someone else.

Airbnb’s work to prepare for the Olympics began when it signed an agreement last year with the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee, says Leonardo Tristao, head of Airbnb in Brazil. Last month, Airbnb said it had already booked 55,000 guests for the Olympics and 38,000 listings in the Rio de Janeiro area, according to Tristao.

The average price for a night in Rio during the Olympics for three people is $165, according to Tristao (the company said last month it was $170). That said, tech news blog Gizmodo recently posted a list of several Airbnb listings for homes in Rio in the thousands of dollars, so there is a range.

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Along with spreading the word and recruiting new hosts to ensure it could handle the influx of fans during the Olympics, payments have been another crucial aspect of Airbnb’s service.

As a marketplace, Airbnb must not only facilitate payment for its hosts, who in this case live in Brazil, but also accept payment methods that are convenient for travelers. A year ago, Airbnb started accepting local credit cards, something it didn’t offer two years ago when Rio hosted the FIFA World Cup. At the time, Airbnb only accepted international credit cards.

Airbnb also recently added the ability to pay in installments and via Boleto, which allows guests without a credit card to print a slip with a barcode and take it to a local convenience store or bank to pay their bills. online shopping. For the latter method, Airbnb has decided on a 24-hour delay before the ticket expires so that guests don’t stay too long in reserved rooms before getting paid, the company said recently. fast company.

“The biggest opportunity for Airbnb in Brazil is domestic travel,” Tristao said. Fortune.

During the 2014 World Cup, only 6% of bookings in the region came from Brazilians traveling to the tournament. However, awareness of Airbnb as a travel accommodation option has spread widely in the country, says Tristao. At the end of 2015, 53% of all reservations in Brazil were made by Brazilians, he adds.

For the Olympics, about half of bookings come from Brazilians, largely because a large share of tickets went to residents of the country, Tristao said. Many families of participating athletes also stay in Airbnb rentals during the Olympics, he notes.

Meanwhile, with additional housing stock thanks to Airbnb and falling ticket sales, travel agencies are reportedly slashing prices for empty hotel rooms, according to a recent report. report in the Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico.

Regarding safety issues such as crime and recent concerns about the mosquito-induced Zika virus, Airbnb says it has been active in keeping its hosts and guests well informed.

“When Zika broke into mainstream media in the United States, especially the [World Health Organization] and [U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations, Airbnb has taken a really proactive approach to informing any client of any recommendations” from the agencies, Tristao points out. But Airbnb has not provided health supplies for hosts and guests.

“We haven’t seen any change in the pattern of cancellations due to Zika,” Tristao replies when asked if health issues have impacted bookings for the Olympics.

So does Airbnb think its business boom in Brazil will continue once the Olympics are over?

“We don’t think business will drop,” predicts Tristao, adding that of course there will be adjustments after the current high season for the travel industry. “I think one of the legacies of the games is that people, at least Brazilians, now understand the opportunity of homesharing.”

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