When Brian, Joe and I first started talking to prominent investors about Airbnb, the rejections were swift. Some didn’t get the idea. Others didn’t like the idea. One said he hoped this wasn’t the only thing we were working on. Eight years later, there have been over 80 million guest arrivals at Airbnb listings worldwide. We have over 2 million listings in 34,000 cities stretched across 191 countries.
But it’s not just Airbnb that’s growing, it’s an entire industry of sharing economy companies that are fundamentally changing how people work, travel, live and interact. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 72% of Americans have used some type of shared or on-demand online service.
China, in particular, has embraced the sharing economy. As of April, more than 500 million Chinese people have participated in the sharing economy in China. Chinese sharing economy platforms are worth nearly 2 trillion Yuan (roughly US $300 billion) and it is expected to represent 10 percent of China’s GDP by 2020. And this week, Premier Li spoke to the World Economic Forum and welcomed the sharing economy and made clear that it can make the Chinese economy stronger.
Earlier this month, I participated in the JP Morgan Global China Summit, where I shared that China is Airbnb’s fastest growing market for outbound travelers. We’ve seen a 500% increase in outbound travel from China in just the past year. And since 2008, there have been over 2 million guest arrivals from China at Airbnb listings worldwide.
The average Chinese traveler is 30 years old and is using Airbnb to have a truly authentic, local experience. Along the way, these travelers serve as cultural ambassadors for China, educating their hosts in countries around the world about Chinese history and culture. We have seen the power of this 21st century person-to-person diplomacy in places like Cuba, and we’re grateful to create the same opportunity for travelers visiting places like France, Japan, Korea and the United States.
We are always looking for ways to improve the experience of our travelers, and have made a number of changes to the Airbnb platform for Chinese travelers, such as localizing our platform for Mainland China with customized Chinese pages, implementing AliPay for payments, enabling Weibo and WeChat sign-ups as well as partnerships with local travel sites like Mafengwo and Qyer.
Airbnb can make it easier for people from around the world to get off the beaten path and we are excited about the prospect of growing our community in China and around the world.
(Editor’s note: check out this infographic for more about Airbnb’s growth in China)