Tuesday 20 March 2018

Airbnb changes its name to Aibiying and doubles investment to woo China

Zlata Rodionova

Although Uber failed to dominate the vast and fiercely competitive Chinese market, Airbnb is still determined to make it a success.

Not only is the home-sharing service doubling its investment in the country and tripling its local workforce from 60 to 180 employees, it also got a new name.

The company has rebranded itself as “Aibiying”, which means “welcome each other with love”, a name that the company reportedly says should be easier for Chinese travellers to pronounce than the English version.

The company will also hope to make a success with its “Trips” product, a  service that gives its customers ideas for things to do and see while they are traveling. The service launched last November and is now being rolled out in China.

In Shanghai, travellers will be able to book experiences such as attending a traditional opera or learning about 4,000 year-old Chinese folk art.

More than 80pc of Airbnb users in China are under the age of 35, a higher proportion than any other country, according to the company.

Airbnb – which connects hosts, who want to rent their homes, with short-term renters who may stay anywhere from one night up to a few weeks—has become popular in China, where there are roughly 80,000 Airbnb listings that have housed nearly 1.6 million travellers, the company said.

Nonetheless, China is still only a small part of Airbnb’s business. Overall, the company has 3 million listings on its site in 191 countries.

By doubling down on China, Airbnb is trying to succeed where other US tech companies have struggled.

In the same way as Uber was up against its Chinese rival Didi, Airbnb will be competing with Tujia.com.

Airbnb has also said that, in an attempt to better adapt to local culture, it is offering local payment methods such as  Alipay and  WeChat  Pay.

“There’s a whole new generation of Chinese travellers who want to see the world in a different way,” chief executive and co-founder Brian Chesky wrote in a statement, according to Reuters.

“We hope that Aibiying and our Trips product strikes a chord with them and inspires them to want to travel in a way that opens doors to new people, communities and neighbourhoods across the world. I’m really excited about our future here,” he added.

Independent News Service

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business