Airbnb has seen significant growth in Africa
Airbnb, the American online marketplace for global hospitality, has recorded a surge in its business in Africa.
The company noted 100,000 active accommodation listings on the continent in September 2017, up from 62,000 in the previous year.
The number of annual guests using the marketplace has increased by 5,000% since 2012, reaching 1.2mn in 2017.
The company has seen five years of consecutive strong growth in Africa, as have hosts, who have earned US$139mn from Airbnb in the previous year period.
However, Africa still accounts for a very small fraction of Airbnb’s business, with the entire continent having less properties than the city of Paris until 2017.
South Africa is the continent’s most popular destination on Airbnb, with more than 651,000 guests visiting using the service over the past 12 months.
Due to this success, there has been a surge in Airbnb management companies that aid the monetisation of properties for residents, such as Superhost South Africa.
“We started two and a half years ago in early 2015 with our own properties,” commented Greg Schneider, Managing Director of Superhost South Africa. “It exploded off the back of that.”
The firm primarily deal with clients with year-round listings, helping with bookings, cleaning, key exchange, and emergencies.
Superhost South Africa are expected to benefit from Airbnb’s expansive deal with Cape Town, which will see the marketplace advance its people-to-people tourism whilst promoting the city.
The firm will also organise the Africa Travel Summit in Cape Town in May, to focus on sustainable tourism growth.
“Africa is in need of as much foreign investment as possible,” Mr Schneider added.
“Airbnb allows you to do local tourism. It puts foreign dollars in the pockets of lower and middle-class Africans.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.