Online accommodation company, Airbnb is upbeat on Goa. There are many Goan homes listed on its site more than what is generally known. Airbnb, India, officials were briefly down in Goa for a promotional visit. Here Amanpreet Bajaj, country manager, speaks on range of issues. He says to Shoma Patnaik that, Goa is become the company’s key market in India with potential to achieve exponential growth
- Airbnb is very optimistic on Goa, why?
Increasingly a lot of people are seeking real authentic experiences by staying in local homes with local families and immersing themselves in the local culture. We are seeing the same trends emerge in India. In India we have more than 24,000 homes listed on our site of which 4000 homes are in Goa. So clearly Goa is one of the most favorite destinations on Airbnb. And it is not very difficult to understand why. If you look at Goa, the state is more like year-long destination for people to come. And it caters to everyone whether it is a teenager, college student, families and even business class. Clearly we have seen good growth in Goa. We have grown 260 per cent in the number of Goan homes on our platform and 515 per cent in the total number of nights booked in the last two years. We think Goa will continue to be an important market because, as I said, people come not only for holidays but also for weekends, multiple tomes or even business. They are looking at different locations within the state. It is early days but I think we will surpass the 260 per cent growth in the next 2 years.
- The rooms in Goa, how often are they booked?
It is more or less booked throughout the year. Obviously there are lean periods but we are seeing that those lean periods are becoming very small. It is because we have something to offer for everyone. So if you want Rs 1,200 room in a share a apartment, we have it. But if you are looking in a villa with private pool it could be anything from Rs 10,000 or even Rs 50,000 per night is available.
- Where is Goa placed for you vis-à-vis other states in India?
Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are some of the urban markets for us, while Goa- Rajasthan, Kerala, Pondicherry are the key emerging places for us in terms of growth. Goa is important to us and bigger than say Rajastahn where we have 3,500 hosts overall although it is a bigger state
- What is the home owners profile like here?
It is blend. Our host community in Goa is very vibrant and diverse. There are young who are giving a room in their apartment. But we also have a number of niche properties on the people. So people who have brought Portuguese villas and people who have restored 100 year old homes. It is a blend of Portuguese villas, apartments, second home owners. The homes are spread out but we are seeing lot of homes opening in Siolim, Assagao, Ashwem, Calangute, Baga, basically north Goa.
- Who are the Airbnb tourists in Goa?
More than two million guests have used Airbnb globally so lot of foreigners have come to India. But increasing, especially for Goa the domestic segment is growing much faster. The split here is 80:20, with 80 per cent of domestic tourists.
Goa always had home stays because locals let rooms. They do not need to list on Airbnb for tourism. Do you see that as a hurdle to increasing presence?
No not at all, not a hurdle. It is a global footprint. Now it is also a way of showcasing the home to larger audience. It is a way to earn money. We are a technology platform enabling people to get a larger footprint. There are multiple benefits of putting the home on our platform. For e.g. if you put your home on Airbnb you not only get access to million people but also get peace of mind in terms of money. We collect the money upfront from the guest and once check-in and check-out is over we pass on the money to the host. We also see that every host receives Rs 6.6 crore of insurance. So if something goes wrong people in that home can use our insurance money. The rate at which we have grown is testimony that people want to be on our platform.
- What about competition from similar online sites?
Hospitality is a vast market and as people travel it is good news for all. We are expanding the pie and we believe that lot of people can co-exist in this field.
- What is your opinion of the long term potential of home stays?
If you look at Airbnb we want people to re-imagine the way they travel. Over the years people have travelled in a certain way by going through the to-do list of someone else. We want people to move away from the standardised way of travel. We want them to immerse themselves in the local culture. The best way to do it is by staying in a local home and visit local places. Lots of people are blown away by the amazing Goan hospitality.