Interview: Airbnb, 500M guests and the migration of the hotel industry

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This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

Greg Greeley, President of Accommodations at Airbnb, spoke with Forbes Mexico about how the company has come to modify one of the most important sectors in the world.

Greg Greeley is in favor of technology that goes beyond a simple device or a gadget. That the different tendencies that currently permeate the industries, have been able to change the way we see our day to day and with this completely modify the scenarios in business.

From his trench as President of Accommodations at Airbnb, who was Vice President of Amazon Prime, talks exclusively with Forbes Mexico, about how is currently one of the most disruptive companies in the world, which has a presence in 191 countries with 81,000 cities, as well as the challenges he is facing.

Give us an overview of Airbnb around the world.

This year we are celebrating our tenth anniversary. The company started ten years ago when our founders and first hosts could not pay rent for their apartment so they invited people to share their house and from this first experience the idea grew, but more importantly, it increased the idea of ​​connecting with people who travel. With this anniversary we celebrate the arrival of our 500 million guests, as well as having a presence in 191 countries where the hosts open their doors to welcome more guests in 81,000 cities. We have expanded that first idea of ​​the local hosts that provide a place to stay, towards the creation of a complete travel platform.

In these years, how has the process of changing an industry as important as tourism and hotels around the world?

We can talk about the power of the community and the power of the network of hosts that began with our two founders who invited their friends and acquaintances to share their home, they saw the opportunity to grow this idea, so this powerful project has grown in this way and this is how it has crossed borders and develops worldwide, since the way people travel is changing, because they increasingly seek authentic local experiences and that gives them more opportunities to travel, beyond the traditional way In addition to that travel is democratized, both for hosts and guests in Mexico and in the world. Therefore, we focus on the success Airbnb has had since the host community was created.

Currently, what are the most important markets for the Airbnb business around the world?

Each city is important as well as each host, and this is where we build the business, so we focused on providing economic empowerment, since we started with two hosts who could not pay the rent and now there is a great diversity of people involved with Airbnb, some because they want to meet more people, others because they use it as an economic empowerment, some more because they want to share their homes with other people who had not had the opportunity to travel, others who do it as a hobby and when we think about what is important for all of them we designed a way to work with each one.

… I do not like to think that one market is more important than another, suddenly the big ones fall due to the population, but we want to create an environment where we can diversify and democratize the idea of ​​traveling …

And what place does Mexico occupy in the Airbnb strategy?

I think that all countries are important for different reasons, certainly the larger countries have greater tourism opportunities like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, but small countries are also important, because we see them as an opportunity to diversify travel, as well as within from Mexico, from Latin America and in the world. It is interesting to know the number of people who are now thinking about traveling and using Airbnb. I do not like to think that one market is more important than another, suddenly the big ones fall due to the population, but we want to create an environment where we can diversify and democratize the idea of ​​traveling, so small places are important for us too.

… We work very closely with regulators around the world to make sure that they put in place an appropriate regulatory framework for each place, because each country and city has different needs and we believe it is important that they recognize it …

How does Airbnb work on regulation in each country?

We work closely with regulators around the world to make sure that they put in place an appropriate regulatory framework for each place, because each country and city has different needs and we think it is important that they recognize that what we do is empower local entrepreneurs and that they do not It is only the magic of traveling, but the magic of economic empowerment that we are creating, and we do not want to set aside the fact that the individual host is being given the opportunity to become a travel entrepreneur.

We have more than 500 different cities in which we are partners to promote a regulatory framework that works for each one according to their needs, but the base we want to create is preparing the host that is looking to make this activity an additional income or that pursues your passion to share your home or be part of the Airbnb experience. We will work very closely in regulatory environments to ensure that they put the correct regulatory framework in accordance with these needs.

What has been the most difficult market to enter?

One thing to remember is that Airbnb really starts within each country or each city, we do not have a target of a launch in any specific market, they are the hosts that want to share their properties, they list on our platform and the guests arrive. From the point of view that cities generally have a lot of concerns about excess tourism, we often hear that cities invested ten years ago in order not to lose tourists and now they started arriving and consider that they are having too many. And Airbnb has never been the reason for this problem, but we can be part of the solution because we can diversify trips instead of staying in a single city, we can help tourists discover new places.

… If we count all the beds that our community has, it would be double what the hotel industry has …

How is Airbnb's relationship with the hotel industry?

Globally, the travel industry has grown very fast, and on Airbnb, if we count all the beds that our community has, it would be double what the hotel industry has, which is good for travel, because it means that more people can travel; however, in almost all countries the hotel industry continues to grow. Marriot announced that it will also launch its own home rental business, so I think the hotel industry is aware that the home sharing business is an important part of travel, and I think they are moving from being afraid to discover how They can be part of the overall travel landscape.

But we are less concerned about our competitors, and more concerned about what we are doing to help our hosting entrepreneurs to grow the business they want to have. The travel industry is so big that it has a good balance and maybe there were people who were afraid when they saw that Airbnb grew so fast, but Marriot is showing that this point can be taken advantage of.

Airbnb opened its doors in the earthquake of September 19 in Mexico, how these dynamics help expand the business?

Our first accommodation opening emerged after a hurricane and was the idea of ​​a host, and what makes a platform great are the ideas and innovations that come from your community. Our host proposed us to enlist free and we thought it would be a great idea, so we invited more hosts and we had a lot of success, because every day I receive a report where every part of the world has a potential problem and if we act like this opening the rents is very exciting, so we will continue to look for ways to do this and invite our hosts to participate, as we work with local entities to ensure that we do so productively. This is good for business, but especially for society.

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

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Simon Baker is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Marketplaces and Property Portal Watch. Involved with property portals for 15 years, he’s a well-recognized expert and industry consultant.
As former CEO/MD of the REA Group for 8 years, Simon led the group to its current market-leading position. When he joined REA Group in 2001, it had $4m in revenues, $6m in losses and an $8m market cap.
By 2008, the company presided over $155m in revenues, $35m in EBITDA and enjoyed a peak market cap of $1b. Simon is currently Chairman of the Mitula Group and Real Estate Investar and a serial portal founder and, investor.