Here’s how your Airbnb booking is helping emerging markets


If you have a question, resist reaching for your phone and ask a local person instead. Source Shutterstock

EMERGING markets across the globe are thriving and growing thanks to advancements in digital technologies. These new technologies are creating a sharing economy, one which has developed considerably since 2015 and disrupts traditional industries. 

Working separately from established networks of business and industries, the sharing economy allows independent contenders, like homeowners, to make a little profit from the assets they own.

The person-to-person network eliminates the middleman, allowing revenue to go directly to those with the product. This, in turn, creates a boost in the economies of emerging markets.

Airbnb, is recognized as one of the founders of the sharing economy and the global leader in facilitating short-term home sharing. Last week, the company pledged US$2 million of investment to promote and support innovative tourism projects throughout Asia Pacific, through 2020.

The announcement was made by Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb Co-Founder, CSO and Chairman of China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Da Nang, during a panel discussion on the ‘New Job Creators’.

“Airbnb is dedicated to empowering people and communities through healthy tourism, and we have a long tradition of supporting local projects in Asia-Pacific,” said Nathan.

“We’re excited to continue these efforts and support APEC’s goal of driving sustainable and inclusive tourism to Asia-Pacific economies.”

A new report from NERA Economic Consulting, shows that in 2016 the Airbnb community boosted APEC economies by US$28 billion and supported 370,000 jobs across 116 APEC cities. The travel and tourism industry today accounts for 10 percent of global GDP and facilitates one in every 10 jobs.

APEC and Airbnb share a common goal of closing the disparate tourism gap that exists between Asian countries, by focusing on inclusive growth and sustainable tourism.

APEC hopes to see 800 million inbound international tourists arrive in its member economies by 2025, and Airbnb are committed to helping the group  meet that target.

The fund will be available to organizations—including destination marketing organizations, NGOs, non-profit agencies and community social groups—in need of financial support for innovative tourism projects.

Airbnb experiences

The digitized world allows a consumer to book experiences quickly, without the need for a tour operator taking a considerable cut. Airbnb is working to optimize on this to help emerging markets establish themselves within the tourism sphere

One such initiative is the introduction of Airbnb “Experiences,” which allows travelers to book activities through their Airbnb app. After launching Experiences in 2016, the company now offers 3,000 of them in cities around the world, connecting the globalized traveler to localized business. From sipping tea in Ho Chi Minh City with a local expert to learning to sketch Bangkok’s natural and made-made beauty, it’s all available with the click of a button.

Through booking with Airbnb, travelers are helping to grow emerging markets and provide a steady and secure platform for local businesses, that otherwise, would have little chance of succeeding against established and often expensive tour operators.

This creates a form of ‘healthy’ travel, which provides authentic, affordable experiences while distributing the economic benefits to a wider number of people and places, and affording local entrepreneurs the financial success they urgently need to sustain their business.

The dining industry has also massively benefited from Airbnb’s part in the sharing economy and will continue to grow as Airbnb establishes home-sharing listings in more emerging markets.

Choosing to book a short-term rental, as opposed to hotels, allows stayers to either cook for themselves or go and explore the local eateries.

Due to the increase in travelers opting for homestays rather than expansive and impersonal hotels, a whopping US$1 billion was generated in the restaurant sector in APEC markets between September 2016 and September 2017, purely from Airbnb users alone.

This involvement and investment in emerging markets is helping once struggling economies to gain confidence and respect in the tourism market. It is also bringing them closer to realizing their goal of being recognized as developed markets that reflect the inbound tourism they hope to receive.

With steady growth for APEC countries such as the Philippines seeing a 133 percent year-to-year increase in inbound guest arrivals on Airbnb, the combined goal of 800 million tourists by 2025 is certainly achievable, and perhaps surpassable.