A couple who won a competition on the Airbnb accommodation site lie in an underwater bedroom surrounded by a shark tank at the Aquarium de Paris in France. (Photo by Philippe Lopez/For China Daily)
Ge Hong quits for greener pastures, to be replaced by U.S. co-founder
The head of Airbnb Inc's China business has left his job abruptly for another opportunity after just four months in the role, with the vacation rental site announcing on Tuesday that its co-founder will take the job.
Airbnb said Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Blecharczyk will become chairman of Airbnb China. He will be based in San Francisco and travel to China on a monthly basis.
The departure of Ge Honga former software engineer at Facebook and Google－is widely considered to reflect the challenges that Airbnb faces in the competitive Chinese market.
Airbnb's biggest rival in China, Tujia, recently raised $300 million to fund its rapid expansion, amid a surge of Chinese families traveling abroad. Tujia is China's largest vacation rental site, now handling more than 650,000 listings globally.
Tujia's latest fundraising comes as Airbnb quadruples its Chinese tech team to grow its domestic market share. It now has around 120,000 listings in the country and is fighting to convince Chinese consumers to choose its services over domestic rivals'.
This year, the transaction scale of China's online short-term rental market is expected to reach 12.52 billion yuan ($1.89 billion), surging 42.6 percent on last year.
But the high growth has not made up for the fact that most enterprises are losing money, according to consulting group iResearch.
In June, Tujia saw its sales revenue jump 6.5 times year-on-year, but it still did not achieve overall profitability.
By the second half of 2016, Airbnb announced that it had started to make a profit. But, compared with its global success, it is still trying to acclimatize its business in China and compete with its rivals in the country.
Currently, China is Airbnb's fastest-growing market and its second-fastest-growing outbound travel market. During the past Golden Week holiday in early October, domestic Airbnb bookings in China nearly tripled on the same period last year.
The company said that next year, the number of team members in China serving hosts will more than double and it will accelerate on-the-ground preparation and training for hosts.
Airbnb added it has already held offline community events in Beijing and Shanghai. Next year, it will conduct more than 100 host education sessions in 10 cities across China.
Raymond Chang, a professor at the School of Management at Yale University, said earlier that innovation is highly critical for the short-term rental market in China. He said, if Airbnb tries to apply its model unchanged to China, then it will not work, because Chinese people have different habits and requirements with those in the United States.