Online marketplace for lodging expands in PH

A US-based start-up, which successfully developed an online platform where travelers can rent accommodations from people who have available spaces in their places, is intensifying its presence in the Philippines after seeing a spike of tourist interest in the country.

JJ Chai, director of operations for Airbnb Southeast Asia, during a recent press briefing in Makati City

Airbnb, a break-out start-up headquartered in San Francisco, California, recently held a press briefing in Makati City to announce “its continuing expansion into Southeast Asia with the beginning of focused efforts in the Philippines.”

The Internet firm said it “will focus on engaging with its rapidly growing community in Manila and throughout the country, as the company has seen over 400-percent growth year-over-year in the Philippines in 2012.”

“Airbnb is about creating unique, memorable experiences, and we’re seeing a huge increase in demand in the Philippines and across Asia,” said co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Nathan Blecharczyk.

“Manila is a growing travel destination, and people from the Philippines are traveling abroad at increasing rates, so we believe it will be a crucial market for us as we continue to grow,” Blecharczyk said in statement.

The company rattled off some statistics on its growth in the country:

• Guests have come from 67 different countries around the world to travel in the Philippines on Airbnb.

• The number of guest nights booked on Airbnb in the Philippines has increased 345 percent in 2012 alone.

• The number of Airbnb guest nights booked by people from the Philippines traveling elsewhere has increased 263 percent in 2012, with the most popular destinations being Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Singapore, Manila, Rome, Seoul, Barcelona, Florence, and London.

• Airbnb has over 975 listings in the Philippines, including 530 in Manila.

To support the growth in the Philippines, Airbnb said it has designated Ole Ruch as manager of the Southeast Asia region.

“The team focused on the Philippines will work to better support hosts and guests in the market, assisting in managing listings, bookings, and educating users about the Airbnb process,” the company said.

Airbnb, which started out as airbedandbreakfast.com, makes money from the transactions done in the site. It charges guests a 6-12 percent service fee for every reservation booked and a 3-percent fee on the hosts.

JJ Chai, director of operations for Airbnb Southeast Asia, said during the press briefing that travelers still choose to book their accommodations via the site since they are assured of the legitimacy of the offerings.

The company said it is currently the world leader in short-term accommodations. In June, Airbnb said it celebrated 10 million nights booked. On any given night, over 50,000 guests are staying at Airbnb accommodations around the world, it said.