Airbnb is doubling marketing investments in India and is still optimistic about Singapore

Airbnb’s regional director for Asia-Pacific Siew Kum Hong addressed questions about the firm having “abandoned Singapore” and his larger vision for the Asia-Pacific market at the recently concluded Skift forum.

Legislation currently in place in Singapore limits the renting of property to tourists and has disrupted the Airbnb business model.

Siew acknowledged that it had been a challenging atmosphere, responding to a question from Skift founding editor Dennis Schaal. He  admitted it was “quite disappointing” when the government announced it wouldn’t be updating the rules that have so far severely curtailed the functioning of Airbnb in the city state.

He however added: “In the longer term, I am reasonably optimistic about rules changing. I don’t think that door is fully closed.” This was in part due to Airbnb expanding beyond the privately-owned home rental business to include boutique hotels and other options.

Siew also believed rentals could be a solution to the challenges faced by Singapore’s elderly population.

Airbnb’s regional director for APAC Siew Kum Hong

He was unreservedly optimistic about the rest of the Asia-Pacific region which had so far clocked in a million listings, 100 million people checking in and around $10 billion in host fees. The bright sparks were India and China.

In India, Airbnb planned on doubling its marketing investments to raise awareness. The number of listings had gone up by 150% in the past year and the firm was keen on tapping into the country’s 400 million strong millennial population – “larger than the entire population of the United States,” as Siew pointed out.

Airbnb was a rare case of an American internet brand making a dent in China. Siew revealed that while the anticipation was that the bulk of the business in the country would be outbound, the surge in inbound traffic meant it could be the number one market for Airbnb by 2020.


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