Airbnb expands China team as local user population explodes

Despite many local counterparts, Airbnb is growing fast in China to answer increasing demand for lodging overseas.
Written by Liu Jiayi, Contributor

The California-based online lodging website Airbnb is expanding its 10-people team in Beijing following a 700 percent increase in the number of Chinese users last year.

The company aims to deepen localisation by improving its Chinese website and providing local language customer service, as reported by industry website Jiemian.com on August 25, 2015.

The company will also recruit a new chief executive officer for the Chinese market by going through a "very stringent and long" process, a spokesperson told Jiemian on Tuesday.

"Apart from background, experience, and qualifications, we will at the same time judge the candidates by their personality, personal hobbies, and cultural background, and decide whether they will be suitable for the position," said the spokesperson. "Airbnb's investors could also use their own network to help with the preliminary selection of candidates."

According to the report, the exploding increase of users, most of whom are young backpackers that travel overseas, made the American company start to take the Chinese market seriously.

However, the newcomer has had to face fierce competition from local counterparts, some of which are financed by state-owned CITIC Group Corporation and e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Previously, Airbnb was working with Chinese online tourism service providers Mafengwo.cn and Qyer.com by granting Chinese customers access to its 1.6 million houses and rooms in 40,000 cities around the world.

As 36kr.com reported earlier this month, Airbnb secured 9,634 orders on Qyer.com during the first quarter of 2015. According to Han Zhe, Qyer.com's chief business officer, the number is very conservative and the actual sales figure is much bigger.

As data from World Tourism Organisation indicates, as many as 109 million Chinese tourists travel overseas during the year of 2014, an increase of 11 percent, while their consuming power in foreign countries has remained No. 1 since 2012.

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