How Airbnb is taking on local competitors amid push into China

The home-sharing platform is popular with Chinese millennials
April 06, 2019 02:00PM

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb cofounder, and Beijing (Credit: Airbnb, Pixabay)

Airbnb is making a big push into China, hoping to plant a flag in the country’s nascent home-sharing market.

Unlike some of its competitors, Airbnb has built its own operation in China, instead of partnering with a local company. The home-sharing giant now has 300 employees in the country and co-founder Nate Blecharczyk is at the helm as chairman, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There’s strong competition in China — Airbnb currently has just 7 percent of the home-sharing market, dwarfed by domestic leaders Tujia and Xiaozhu, who together account for nearly half of the market. (Xiaozhu is pushing to take on Airbnb outside of China as well.)

The Chinese home-sharing market itself is also relatively small compared to the U.S. at just five percent of China’s lodging industry, compared to a 10 percent market penetration in the U.S. Airbnb is hoping to ease its Chinese expansion by working with government regulators, instead of fighting any attempts to limit home-sharing as its done in markets around the U.S., including Los Angeles and New York.

Airbnb has found popularity with Chinese millennials, who make up 69 percent of Airbnb’s customers in the country. Around 70 percent of Chinese millennials own their home – a higher percentage than Americans across all age groups – and they often list their homes when they travel. Millennials in China outnumber the entire population of the U.S. [WSJ] – Dennis Lynch