After years of not taking China very seriously, Airbnb is now trying something different. The US-based company has set up a China entity, which means it’s obligated to store some personal data and payments information on Chinese servers – but most global users will not be affected.
Airbnb has so far had “more than 3.5 million guest arrivals by Chinese travelers at Airbnb listings all over the world,” said the company in a blog post explaining its move. With China’s outbound tourism booming, the giant #startup wants to lure more of them away from hotels – as well as persuade some of them to open their own homes to travelers coming to China.
It now has more than 2 million listings in 191 countries.
“While to date we have not focused on building our community in China, we’ve seen more and more Chinese hosts organically sign up to share their space and there have been nearly 1 million guest arrivals at Airbnb listings in China to date,” says the company.
Airbnb, founded in 2008 and now with more than 2 million listings in 191 countries, has updated its terms of service to reflect these legal changes with regards to mainland China. Hong Kong and Macau users are not affected.
“Going forward, if you reside in China, you’ll now formally interact with a new entity — Airbnb China — when you use our platform to both travel and host in China. And consistent with how the traditional hospitality industry handles stays in hotels, information about guest bookings in China and Airbnb listings in the country will be stored by Airbnb China,” the firm explains.
Local data storage means Airbnb may be required by Chinese government agencies to disclose information.
The American startup is up against a strong Chinese startup in the form of Tujia, which has raised around US$400 million in funding and is valued at over US$1 billion. Tujia now has 430,000 listings in 312 cities in mainland China – and its investment from HomeAway means that the Chinese site also offers a ton of overseas options from HomeAway’s sizable catalog.