US-based home rental service Airbnb has highlighted the growth of Australia’s tourism industry, after announcing plans to open an office in Sydney and recruit local talent to drive the brand.
Airbnb, founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, is an online community marketplace for people to list and book unique accommodation options around the world.
Based in San Francisco, Airbnb can offer people travel experiences in more than 26,000 cities and almost 200 countries.
On the back of several major funding rounds in 2010 and 2011, including a “significant amount” from US actor-turned-entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher, Airbnb made its first Australia-based hire in June last year.
Tech entrepreneur Matthew Ho, who no longer works for Airbnb, was charged with the task of signing up new properties and new users in Australia.
Airbnb has remained tight-lipped on its intentions for the Australian market, but it has now been confirmed the company is opening an office in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo.
Chesky is currently in Australia to familiarise himself with the local market and potentially lure new investors.
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In an email to StartupSmart, company spokesperson Jacob Kerr said Airbnb is officially opening its Sydney office today. It is the company’s 11th office worldwide.
“Airbnb will be launching in several markets across Asia and Australia over the coming weeks, starting with Australia… and continuing with Thailand and Indonesia soon,” Kerr said.
“Australians alone have booked over one million nights of travel on Airbnb. As a region, Airbnb guest nights booked in Asia have more than quadrupled in 2012.”
The Australian office will be headed by technology investor Donald Stalter, with plans to recruit local talent. The company will also be working closely with Tourism Australia.
Chesky told BRW that on any given night, there are 3,000 Australians “staying somewhere in the world on Airbnb”.
Australia has also proved a popular destination for foreign users of Airbnb.
“Tonight, 1,000 people are sleeping in this country from around the world on Airbnb. The number staying here [in Australia] would have been 150 just a year ago,” Chesky said.