What would ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ be without the quintessential Euro Trip?
Loved it or hated it! One thing for sure, Karan Johar has made our ‘Paris dreams’ possible with his recent release ‘Ae Dil Hai Muskil’. However, such ‘trips’ are no longer far-fetched. The eight-year-old startup, Airbnb, which has its presence in 190 countries, recently launched its trips in 12 countries- Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul- to make your travel more magical. Amanpreet Bajaj, India Head, Airbnb, talks about laughing, smelling and living a city.
From being an entrepreneur to heading Airbnb in India how the shift took place?
After four years of rigorous start-up journey (his start-up Letsbuy was sold to Flipkart), I wanted to take some time off but during that period I was mentoring few start-ups ,and was also doing some angel investing. Being a tech entrepreneur and one who followed the Indian trade lines very closely, I truly thought what Airbnb was doing was very inspiring. I believe India is ready for that totally. Hospitality is part of the Indian culture and if there is a platform in tech space that can really help out; it is Airbnb. It gives an opportunity for hosts to come and showcase their culture, value, and the heritage of India.
How well has Indians accepted it?
In last 12 months, we are seeing good growth in India and listings have grown to 115 per cent. We have rented about 18,000 homes here. This is happening in multiple cities, tourist hotspots like Goa, Manali, Shimla, Pondicherry and also in tier I and tier II cities. Over the period of time, we have built a reputation and more listings in India are getting reviewed and more and more people are travelling within India, both Indians and foreigners. But if you compare, clearly more people are travelling from India and given the global network of 190 countries and 2.5 million homes.
India is comparatively a conservative country, are people conformable to open their doors to travelers?
More people are opening up their homes in multiple parts of the country. There is an old couple from Agra, who have hosted people from multiple countries and they say they don’t need to travel, the stories they get to hear from their guests is enough to enrich their lives. A couple from Pune said that because of the supplementary income they get from Airbnb, by hosting guests, they can now puruse their passion in photography. There is a 130-year-old Portuguese villa which is right in the centre of Goa and you can find it only in Airbnb.
What are the challenges here?
Our challenge is to bring more awareness about this concept. We ran big media campaign this year, focusing on re imagining travel with a tagline ‘don’t go there, live there’. We partnered with Thomas Cook earlier this year. Also we partnered with movies like ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ because we understand that films are the
biggest source of inspiration.
How the Airbnb Trip can change the concept of travelling?
These trips will bring places to life. Find the perfect run from a marathoner, the best dive bar from a local mixologist from our cultural expats. We have also handcrafted activities like Samurai Swordplay workshop in Tokyo or an immersive multi-day experience like driving classic cars in Malibu, to make the experiences more fulfilling for our guests. The beauty of Airbnb is that it gives you a lot of choice and there is something to offer for everyone according to their need and demand, we want every home to be unique because that is what people are looking for.