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想在中国成功,AirBnb光有中文名还不够

Scott Cendrowski 2017年03月28日

要想在中国市场取得成功,AirBnb最需要的并不是囤积众多房屋,而是积累众多通过它的服务到海外旅游的中国用户。

 

Airbnb开始了在中国的新一轮推广,其中包括这个欢快的中文名字,含义是“让爱彼此相迎”,针对80、90后的服务平台以及提高了一倍的投资。人们立即把这些举动和另一家独角兽公司在东方市场的扩张进行了对比。

对于优步未能成为中国顶尖品牌的探讨似乎表明,中国市场并不以青睐自我感觉良好的美国初创公司而闻名,并且已经挤满了竞争对手,AirBnb在这里的机会很小。

但这种观点过于尖刻。和拼车不同,快速增长的中国旅游市场或许可以容纳多家公司,甚至是AirBnb这样的外国“独角兽”。

目前中国民宿市场很小,处于主导位置的是小猪短租和途家网等国内企业,出租房屋超过40万间。AirBnb称,去年它在中国提供的出租房屋数量翻了一番,只是总数仅为8万间。然而,那些以中国市场为核心的竞争对手尚未跨出国门,和它们不同的是,AirBnb是一家实实在在的全球性企业,在190多个国家和地区提供300万间出租房屋。

这对AirBnb的扩张来说很重要。要想在中国市场取得成功,AirBnb最需要的并不是囤积众多房屋,而是积累众多通过它的服务到海外旅游的中国用户。

据中国国家旅游局介绍,去年中国的出境游人数为1.2亿人次。如果“爱彼迎”这个名字可以在中国引起共鸣,该公司就能迎来大量中国游客,特别是年轻人,他们不想像父辈那样通过旅游大巴窗户来看这个世界。AirBnb称,该公司80%的中国用户都在35岁以下,是所有国家中最年轻的用户群体。去年中国用户使用AirBnb服务的次数上升了146%。

这正是AirBnb首席执行官布莱恩·切斯基下大力气在上海推出新Trips平台的原因之一。访问者可以在这个平台上预订真正的当地体验,比如参观昆曲表演的后台或者有4000年历史的捏面人手工艺。如果AirBnb坚持在中国的推广策略,并像此前所说的那样聘请强有力的本地高管,它的服务就有可能吸引年轻用户,后者则可以通过AirBnb来筹划类似的意大利或美国“探险”。

AirBnb联合创始人乔•杰比亚对彭博社表示:“他们不想坐大巴旅行,不想跟团,也不想去景点。相反,他们希望在当地进行体验。想到中国的80、90后开始有了收入就让人无比激动。”

国内民宿服务龙头的主导位置可能也会带来误导。途家网提供45万出租房屋,但这掩盖了中国人对民宿的怀疑态度。去年,途家网表示已将1万间房屋纳入自行管理范畴,以便为用户提供有保障的体验。也就是说,他们不能保证其他出租房屋可以带来理想的体验。

因此,不应仅仅由于AirBnb只提供8万间房屋,或者该公司发展缓慢而对它持怀疑态度。CEO切斯基说,中国市场的重要性真的已经高于两年之前。现在该公司终于开始把这句话付诸于行动。但AirBnb在中国盘算和优步不同,它没有面向所有人进行迅速扩张,而是针对一个较小的群体,也就是年轻、富裕的潜在出境游客。AirBnb以不对称的方式和对手竞争,优步则是和正在崛起的滴滴出行展开了势均力敌的正面对抗。如果说途家网等中国同行是AirBnb的对手,那么AirBnb正在竭尽全力地避开它们。

AirBnb希望吸引和父辈旅行方式不同的80、90后,而第一步就是在他们到海外旅游前把这些用户抓在手里。(财富中文网)

作者:Scott Cendrowski

译者:Charlie

审稿:夏林

Airbnb’s new push in China, which includes a cheerful Chinese name that translates into “ welcome each other with love,” a travel service aimed at millennials, and a doubling of investments, was instantly compared to another unicorn’s expansion in the East.

Talk of Uber’s failure to build a top brand in China seemed proof that the odds are steep for Airbnb in a market not known for being hospitable to Pollyannish American startups and already crawling with competitors.

But the view is overly harsh. In China’s rapidly growing travel market, unlike ride-sharing, there might be room for several players, even a foreign “unicorn” like Airbnb.

Today, domestic startups dominate China’s tiny home-stay market. They include Xiaozhu and Tujia, with more than 400,000 listings. Airbnb says it doubled its China listings last year, though it still ended up with only 80,000. But unlike its China-centric rivals, which haven’t expanded outside China’s borders, Airbnb is truly a global service, offering 3 million homes in more than 190 countries.

And that's what important for Airbnb's expansion. If it is to succeed in China, Airbnb doesn’t need a huge inventory of Chinese homes as much as it does a huge roll of Chinese users who use its service to travel overseas.

One hundred and twenty two million Chinese traveled overseas last year, according to the country’s tourism administration. If Airbnb’s new “Aibiying” brand in China resonates, it can cater to that flood of Chinese visitors, especially the young ones who have no interest in seeing the world through tour bus windows of their parents’ generation. Airbnb says 80% of its Chinese users are younger than 35, the youngest base of any country. Chinese guests using its service rose 146% last year.

This is one reason CEO Brian Chesky made such a big deal about launching the fledgling Trips service in Shanghai. Visitors can use it to book authentic local experiences, like going backstage for a Kun Opera or seeing the 4,000-year-old folk art of crafting dough figurines. If Airbnb follows through on its China push by hiring strong local executives, as is promised, it could be the kind of service that draws in young users who then use it to plan similar escapades in Italy or the U.S.

“They don’t want tour buses. They don’t want tour packages. They don’t want tourist areas. Instead they want local experiences,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told Bloomberg. “It couldn’t be more exciting to think about this wave of Chinese millennials that are starting to earn incomes now.”

The dominance of China’s home-share leaders can be misleading too. Tujia’s 450,000 home listings hide the fact that Chinese are skeptical of staying in private residences. Last year, Tujia said it had to take 10,000 properties under its own management to give users a guaranteed experience, which suggested that they couldn’t guarantee nice experiences at its other listings.

For this reason, Airbnb’s 80,000 listing shouldn’t be such a reason for skepticism, nor should the company's slow pace. CEO Chesky said China was a serious priority more than two years ago. Now that it’s finally following through on that statement, Airbnb is making a different calculation than Uber did in China. Instead of expanding quickly for everyone, it is appealing to a smaller segment of users—young, well-off, potentially global travelers. It is fighting asymmetrically against rivals, where Uber ended up going head-to-head in a symmetric battle with rising Didi Chuxing. If Tujia and other local competitors are Airbnb’s rivals, it is doing its best to avoid them.

Airbnb wants to capture the millennials who travel differently than their parents. Capturing them in China before they hop overseas is the first step.

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