Airbnb LATAM Director Also Points to Grand Ambitions Beyond Homestays

Airbnb has witnessed explosive growth culminating in a valuation of USD 25.5 billion, after raising USD 1.5 billion in July. While these results are historical and unprecedented, Jordi Torres, director of Latin America believes that  homestays are just the beginning for this global accommodations provider.

Jordi had this to say, in an interview with Forbes Mexico:  "I see opportunities to grow across the entire breadth of the traveler experience. I see us moving in the entire value chain of travel. That includes in-destination tours, services for hosts including stock provisions such as food and basic toiletries, transportation to the airport... The important thing is to be creative working on ideas that help connect travelers with the local community."

Currently, Airbnb has over 50 million registered travelers, with 1.5 million registered properties in 34,000 cities throughout 190 countries. The newest destination is Cuba, where the platform has around 3,000 properties available for US users. Jordi explained that private homes in Cuba are only available for rent to US citizens, but expected that by year's end users around the world will be able to access the properties listed on the island.

Most recently Airbnb launched its newest service aimed at companies and business travelers. It is a subtle variation that allows companies to have an account through which business travelers can book and pay with their business account. Google is one of the largest customers along with numerous startups out of San Francisco.

Regulatory Landscape in Mexico Still Neutral

Airbnb has run into regulatory headwinds in cities with high concentrations of traditional hotels such as Paris and New York, where they have an offering of 60,000 and 40,000 properties, respectively.

In the case of Mexico, Airbnb has yet to encounter regulatory pressures amid healthy growth in traditional hotels. The platform has approximately 20,000 accommodations.

In the interview with Forbes, Jordi stated that Airbnb wants to have that conversation as soon as possible with the hotel industry and local regulators, but this requires a unique dialog for each city. We are interested in having rules and complying with them. We do not consider ourselves in competition [with traditional hotel services], but rather an alternative option as well as a unique experience. Jordi cited the example of the World Cup in Brazil where Airbnb inventory helped fill demand that would have otherwise been impossible to fill by traditional hotels.