New Airbnb services in Fiji

IRBNB has reached Fiji and the Pacific and representatives Priya Singh and Allen Price are excited about its prospects. The duo who were born and brought up in Suva, Fiji were recently selected by the online marketplace to be its Pacific ambassadors.

The internationally popular Airbnb is a well-known market place for tourists who want to enjoy a private vacation and getaway by hiring private homes and properties of people in other countries.

The concept was started in 2008 by two friends in San Francisco who had to rent an air matteress while renting at an apartment in the city. This gave them the idea to start up the initiative where hosts in countries around the world can accomodate visitors to stay at their property for a fee.

“The Airbnb concept is very simple, there are guests who can browse various properties and request to book at one of their choice given it is available on that date; and on the other side of the transaction, there are Airbnb hosts who list their property on the website with available dates specified for guests to browse and book,” says Priya.

“It is free to list your property on Airbnb as a host and the company only takes a 3 per cent cut every time someone stays at a host’s property that is if a host charges $100 for a night, Airbnb will take $3 a night as commission and the host will pocket $97 a night. Airbnb boasts the lowest fees of all home-sharing sites.”

With the increasing number of visitors to the Pacific, the Airbnb has made a strategic move to expand its presence in the region. Priya is the founder and CEO of the Mentor me Fiji Foundation which has been working to improve education outcomes of children in state care through a mentoring program since 2012 while Allen is a former Fiji basketball rep and co-founder of Cedar Web Consultants, the company which launched Fiji’s first operational e-commerce platform in 2010.

“Our role as ambassadors is to guide, help and grow the Airbnb host community in the Pacific Islands,” says Allen.

“We can clearly see the positive social impact hosting can have for families at home in Fiji who can benefit from the additional income hosting provides. In Suva alone, there have already been over 1300 Airbnb guests and one two-bedroom flat for example, is earning the Airbnb host in Suva about $F390 a night. We would love to see more and more people throughout Fiji hosting private rooms, flats, or even their entire homes when unused on Airbnb and using this extra income to help with bills, fund hobbies, and pursue their dreams.”

While they were raised in Suva, Priya and Allen have spent most of their youth travelling throughout Fiji and other countries and using the Airbnb’s services provided them the opportunity to enjoy their holidays in a much safer and comfortable space.

One of their fondest memories as Airbnb travellers was staying in the small town of Tromso in Norway for Christmas last year. The two were able to rent a small apartment owned by a local police officer at the foothill of a mountain and a 10-minute walk from the town centre.

After their stay they were able to review their experience on the Airbnb website.

“It is one of the best features of Airbnb in my opinion!” shares Priya. “As a visitor, you can place your trust in the host by reading what other visitors have rated them and said about them — and vice versa, hosts can reject your request for stay without providing any explanation if they do not feel you are a good fit to stay at their property.”

“Because we chose to stay at an Airbnb, we had access to all the amenities we wanted; we went shopping at the local grocery store and cooked our own Christmas dinner, opened presents under the Christmas tree and sat outside on the balcony to watch the snowfall. It was perfect,” said Allen.

“We feel really honoured to have been appointed as ambassadors for the Pacific Islands and are very excited to grow the host community at home in Fiji. There are travellers from all over the world who are drawn to different types of accomodation and Airbnb is a great way to earn some extra income when you are not using these spaces; whether you have a self-contained flat by your farm which is not used during off-season, a luxury villa by the ocean which you don’t use all year-round, a private flat attached to your home in the city where you don’t want full-time tenants, a guest bure in the village which you can use to showcase our rich culture and heritage or simply a spare bedroom in your family home which is unused when family members are overseas. Not everyone wants to stay at a five-star hotel by the beach, most travellers these days are looking for an off the beaten track and local experience,” says Priya.

Airbnb has a verified ID feature where they connect guests’ and hosts’ profiles with IDs, social media accounts, and contact info to help hosts know their potential guests and to feel comfortable welcoming them. The company even has a $1,000,000 host guarantee and host protection Insurance to protect your home and possessions from accidental damage.

Priya and Allen will be providing resources, tips, answering any questions and helping hosts create attractive listings on the website with no cost to the host. To access this free service from your Airbnb Ambassadors, visit their website Home in Roam at www.homeinroam.com/airbnb to receive the information pack on Airbnb hosting in the Pacific Islands.

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