Airbnb and Alipay Make Globetrotting Easier For Chinese Tourists

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Airbnb and Alipay Make Globetrotting Easier For Chinese Tourists

Adventurous Chinese travelers who eschew tour groups can now go global but pay local, thanks to a tie up between Airbnb and Alipay.

Chinese tourists renting their holiday apartments on Airbnb can now pay using their Alipay accounts, Airbnb announced today.

Unlike hotel rooms that can look pretty much the same, Airbnb allows travelers all over the world to book unique vacation homes, apartments or even rooms in apartments directly from the owners through its website. It’s an upscale form of couch-surfing and gives travelers the option to choose from a huge variety of accommodation styles whenever they travel. For example, users choose to rent a chic apartment or luxury villa if they are visiting Thailand.

“Chinese travelers who travel overseas want to have great experiences,” said Lex Bayer, head of global payment at Airbnb. “Collaborating with Alipay really allows us to reach those users and make it easier for them to pay and use our platform.”

About 97 million Chinese are travelled overseas last year, with the majority preferring Asian or European destinations, reported official media. Although the majority of those travelling outside tend to travel in big groups, there is a growing trend of solo Chinese travelers who crave a more experiential holiday.

The tie-up will allow Chinese travelers to pay for their lodging in renminbi using their Alipay accounts while the owners overseas get paid in their home currencies through bank transfers. Previously, Chinese travelers looking to book accommodation on Airbnb had to pay using international credit cards, something not many Chinese consumers have. The removal of this requirement makes it easier for Chinese tourists to pay on the platform.

“We have seen tremendous growth in the market. If you compare this year and last year the growth is 252 percent larger in terms of the number of (Chinese) travelers using our flats,” Bayer said.

The collaboration is part of a push by Airbnb to localize its website for Chinese users. Airbnb provides PRC consumers a Chinese language smartphone application and a Chinese language website. Users can also log into Airbnb through Sina Corp’s popular microblogging website, Weibo. Alibaba Group owns around 30 percent of Weibo.

San Francisco-based Airbnb has over 800,000 rental listings and operates in 190 countries. Alipay, China’s largest online payment service provider, has expanded heavily into the tourism industry, teaming up with global tax refund company Global Blue and travel industry technology provider, Amadeus, to cater to China’s booming outbound tourism market.

AlipayChinese TourismTravel
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