Home-sharing giant Airbnb’s general manager for Middle East and Africa, Hadi Moussa, told Hotelier Middle East that the company is not encroaching on the hotel market stake in the cities it operates in and instead is helping diversify the tourist offerings.
As a matter of fact, Moussa points out that more than 89% of Airbnb users choose to stay outside the key hotel districts in a given city.
“We see in general that Airbnb brings in diversification in the types of travellers it can bring to a destination. We’ve done a lot of surveys globally to understand to enquire from people using Airbnb. In general, over 90% of the people say they use Airbnb because they want to live like a local. Over 89% actually stay outside the key hotel districts. And 30% of people say that they would not have travelled if it was not for Airbnb. So, we really believe Airbnb is helping diversify the offering and bring in tourists to a destination,” Moussa explained.
This diversification in source market is also changing the tourism perspective in places like Dubai, Moussa noted, adding that there has been a lot of growth since the company’s debut 10 years ago.
“In case of Dubai, it’s also interesting if you look at the diversification perspective and the types of listings that are available. From a studio apartment, to a one- or two-bedroom apartment, to a villa or a luxury apartment – these kind of offerings helps bring in different kinds of tourists and really helps grow the tide from a tourism perspective,” he added.
Besides diversifying the source market, Moussa said that company has also stirred up business for small boutique hotels across the globe as earlier this year, in February, the company partnered with SiteMinder, a cloud platform for hotels looking to attract guests.
SiteMinder, at the time of the partner announcement, had stated that it’s ideal to cater to provide for travellers looking for that “authentic” experience.
At the time of the partnership, SiteMinder managing director and founder Mike Ford had stated: “In an increasingly-complex and competitive world, SiteMinder’s partnership with Airbnb offers a new opportunity for boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts to engage the growing number of travellers who seek exceptional hospitality and an authentic local experience.”
Referring to the partnership, Moussa said the company already has a growing list of partnerships with small hotels in the Middle Eastern region.
“We already have thousands of boutique hotels on the platform. There are some very specific criteria in the types of hotel just because of what people are looking for in Airbnb – a much more local, authentic experience. So for hotels that offer such experiences, we will continue to work with them. In Dubai specifically, we have started on-boarding a few hotels but don’t have examples to name yet,” Moussa explained.
Back in 2016, Airbnb also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Tourism (DTCM) to encourage responsible hosting within the emirate as well as promote tourism diversification.
“Initially, it started slowly in the Middle East but we’ve seen an acceleration since we signed a MoU with DTCM which has helped grow the number of listings, especially in Dubai,” Moussa stated.
“I think the MoU with DTCM setting clear regulations is a great starting point. Because, it creates a certainty for the host to know that one, it’s legal, and they have clear and simple rules on what they actually need to do to become a host on Airbnb – that’s why we are also seeing the growth in Dubai. Currently, we have 6,700 properties across the UAE. So creating that level of regulatory certainty – that’s very important for us,” he added.
The community-based hospitality company currently has five million listings globally across 191 countries and 81,000 cities.
Moussa told Hotelier Middle East that Airbnb, which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary since its debut in the region, will explore adding options to the 'Airbnb Experiences' feature, has its eyes set on growth within this region such as plans to capitalise on the 25 plus million visitors expected to visit the emirate for the Expo 2020, establish a strong foothold in Saudi Arabia which the company is looking at the as the “next emerging market”, and most importantly, spread the concept of home-sharing.
“We are now working with a number of different governments, including Ras Al Khaimah (RAKTDA), to really make sure there is a kind of environment that allows home-sharing in the region,” Moussa said.