Airbnb, the home rentals website, said it would double its investment in China, triple its workforce there and change its name to “Aibiying” in Chinese.
The name translates to “Welcome each other with love”. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said it reflected the company’s commitment to succeeding in the country.
“There’s a whole new generation of Chinese travellers who want to see the world in a different way,” Chesky said at a launch event in Shanghai.
“We hope that Aibiying… strikes a chord with them,” he said, according to a company statement.
The statement did not provide figures on the increased investment. The company recently ended a successful US$1bil (RM4.4bil) fundraising drive.
Airbnb has 60 employees in China and wants a total of 180 by the end of the year, a spokesperson said.
There have been 5.3 million guest check-ins by Chinese travellers at Airbnb listings around the world. Outbound travel from China grew by 142% in 2016 alone, the company said.
Domestically, Airbnb aims to grow from its approximately 80,000 existing listings in China since it became available at the end of 2014.
Aibiying opens its doors
Airbnb competes in the world’s second largest economy with domestic home rental websites Tujia.com and Xiaozhu.com.
Airbnb is not the first US-based technology firm to make a big push into the Chinese market but not all have found success.
US car-hailing giant Uber agreed last August to tie up with China’s Didi Chuxing, ending a ferocious battle between the two for market share.
The agreement left Didi Chuxing with unquestioned control of the ride-sharing sector.
Airbnb, founded in 2008, allows homeowners to rent out their properties by marketing them online for a fee. – AFP Relaxnews