Airbnb is hoping to spread its unique brand of hospitality throughout Africa.
The San Francisco company, which allows people to rent rooms in their private homes to travelers over the Internet, held an event 27 July in Johannesburg, where Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian walked local reporters through the company’s ambitions in the world’s second-most populous continent.
Airbnb recently hired a general manager for Middle East and Africa, Nicola D’Elia, who was the former head of international growth and partnerships at Facebook.
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D’Elia, based in London, will hire staff to manage the business in Africa and says he may eventually open local offices in the region. In the coming weeks, Airbnb says it will also roll out its “host guarantee” in Africa, which reimburses hosts for up to $1 million US dollars if a guest damages their homes.
Many Africans had already taken to Airbnb despite the company’s lack of a physical presence there. With news spreading mainly through word of mouth, some 9,400 homes are for rent in South Africa, making it the company’s largest market on the continent. The biggest cities for Airbnb are Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the company says listings in South Africa are increasing 138 per cent a year.
The number of people staying in Airbnb homes in the country is growing 257 per cent. “Africa is an incredibly exotic place to travel to, and this is an incredible way to experience it like a local,” says Chesky, on his first trip to the continent.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland