Home-sharing company Airbnb Inc has introduced a new offering in India, as it seeks to expand its operations in a market that is still tiny but growing rapidly.
The company, whose online rental listings range from private rooms to manors and islands, launched the Trips platform during the visit of co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to Delhi.
Chesky—along with Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk—started Airbnb in 2008. The company now operates across the world and is valued around $31 billion.
Airbnb says India is a priority market which holds high potential. Here's all you want to know about the Trips platform and what Chesky was up to in India.
The new offering will allow customer to book local experiences. The Trips platform will be powered by the local people. The idea is to introduce the tourists to local experiences in a city.
With this step, the company has moved beyond home stays. The platform has 15 experiences that can be booked. This service was launched in Los Angeles last year and is now present in 12 other cities.
Airbnb, however, is not the first company to introduce such a service in India. SeekSherpa, for instance, is a marketplace that connects travellers with locals for travel information. It also curates customised experiences for travellers while empowering locals to earn pocket money through the firm's platform.
In a conversation with the Forbes magazine, Chesky said India is still a nascent market for this big an economy.
Out of about 3 million homes globally listed on Airbnb, India accounts for only 22,000, or less than 1%.
But the company thinks India as a long-term bet; it feels that India could be one of its largest markets in 10 to 12 years' time.
Chesky says that India has a huge emerging middle class and that people will spend more on travel and focus more on experiences.
Airbnb's inbound bookings to India grew 187% while outbound bookings, which is the majority of business from India, is growing by 200%, The Economic Times reported.
Not just home stays
According to The Economic Times, Chesky said that the home marketplace business will amount to only a small part of the company's revenue, indicating the launch of more offerings in the future. Clearly, the company plans to broaden into a much bigger platform than just travel.
The company is aiming to produce 50,000 host entrepreneurs in India in the next two years, Chesky tweeted after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In another tweet, he said 8.9 million people visited India in 2015. "We would like to help India double this number," he added.