Mohit Srivastava made a selfish decision two years ago.“I was thinking if ever my grandchildren ask me to tell them my story, I should be able to tell them that I was one of the few lucky people who had the chance to do something meaningful in the travel and hospitality space in India, twice in a lifetime.”
And why not? As the Managing Director at Airbnb for the Indian Sub-continent and the UAE, Mohit is living his dream every day.
After graduation, Mohit pursued his passion as a professional musician. An interview with Makemytrip saw him join the now very successful enterprise as the 12themployee in the company. He was part of the very early founding team and from then on, there was no looking back. Hard work, positive drive and a quest to chase meaning in whatever he did, drove Mohit. Today, at the helm of Airbnb India, he is defining new boundaries for himself and for his company.
In an exclusive conversation with YourStory, Mohit shares with us the unfolding of the Airbnb India story.
YourStory: How are you seeing Airbnb market shaping up in India?
Mohit: India is an exciting opportunity for us. Our community is growing and the early adopters of the product are our product evangelist helping us spread the word of mouth. We have witnessed more than100% YoY organic growth in the market. So while inbound and domestic opportunities are growing steadily; the outbound market is growing faster than the two and growing in double digits MoM.
YourStory: Is there any different pattern/trend that you see regarding user behaviour when it comes to India?
Mohit: Consumers on the internet are always seeking value! And in that sense users of Airbnb in India are not that different from their counterparts in the west! Indian travellers appreciate the access to amenities like kitchen, wifi, washer/dryer etc. which is offered at several of our properties globally. We ran a study in India and learnt that the three top motivations to use Airbnb for Indians are value for money, access to amenities and local experience. A combination of all these factors make Airbnb a compelling proposition for our guests.
YourStory: What’s special about the Indian market?
Mohit: India is unique, and is poised to become a strong outbound market in the years to come. India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets and currently the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world and is projected to be the third largest aviation market globally by 2020. Besides, India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. With increased capacity of flights this population of young travellers will have greater access to destinations worldwide. And it’s very likely that Airbnb will have listings in all those destinations! We currently have more than 600,000 properties across 192 countries.
What’s also interesting is that apart from the younger lot, our early adopters also include senior corporate honchos to retired couples and even local and national celebrities. We attribute this to the network effect Airbnb has built; since we haven’t aggressively marketed the product in India (yet).
YourStory: What’s exciting about what you are doing?
Mohit: Airbnb is helping create meaningful impact in the lives of our hosts and guests in India and it is this aspect that makes my job very exciting. There is always a sense of gratitude when I see that something that we are building is impacting lives of so many people in a positive way.
Our host community is very diverse. From single women hosts — who are using Airbnb to make the two ends meet, to elderly couples (with kids living overseas) who host because Airbnb gives them an opportunity to meet people from across the world, to young software engineers and corporates who are using Airbnb to broaden their global professional network. The motivations vary from person to person!
To give you some examples: Our host Soraya is a single parent and she uses the money she makes from Airbnb to make trips to her daughter who is studying in London. While on the other end, we have Dr. Dhaval who met with a severe accident a few years ago and now uses Airbnb because he says that since he can’t travel across the world, he uses Airbnb which helps him bring the world to his home. Nalin, who is a software engineer, is enjoying his role as a host. He narrates his experience of why he hosts through this video
YourStory: Some key trend you are seeing in the Indian market?
Mohit: Our community in India is growing rapidly and this community is getting connected to more and more people every day. We have ‘groups’ of users who not only share their travel and hosting experience but also share valuable tips and help each other. Interestingly more than 40% of our guests choose to book private rooms over entire homes which indicate that Indians are very open to the concept of sharing. A significant number of our guests are using Airbnb to travel to the US, Europe and South America this summer. By the way, if you happen to travel to Rio for the World Cup this year, you could choose to stay at Ronaldinho’s place . He recently started hosting on Airbnb (smiles).
YourStory: What can we expect from Airbnb in the coming days from an India standpoint?
Mohit: Hospitality is at the core of most Indians. We will work towards our goal of meaningful trips for all people experiencing India and the world through Airbnb.We will stay committed to our mission and will continue to support and build our community of hosts and guests in India. Currently, we have more than 5000 listings across the country.
We also expect a lot more Indians to start using Airbnb and exploring newer destinations which were earlier not on their travel map. Did you know you could rent a private island in Fiji for $500 a night? Or choose a castle from over 640 castles across 40 countries?
From a couch, to a tree house, to houseboats, to exotic villas or even castles and igloos; Airbnb hosts have very unique properties to offer.
At Airbnb, we evaluate our success in terms of meaningful trips and not just total number of trips completed.
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