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Here’s why Nigeria’s growing Airbnb market lags peers, way forward

Nigeria’s position as the largest economy in Africa is yet to rob off on the country’s Airbnb industry which has in the last five years lagged its peers in terms of market size.

While South Africa, Morocco and Kenya are top on the ranking as the countries with the largest Airbnb markets in Africa, Nigeria is only able to occupy the fifth position, a recent report by Airbnb show.

However, analysis of the 2019 data by the Californian-based company showed that Nigeria reported the fastest growth of 325percent over the past year with effective locations at Ibadan, Abuja and places in Lagos like Lekki County Apartments, Mixta Apartments, Urban Shelter Apartments, Lekki Gardens Apartments and many more as high yield accommodations.

Checks by BusinessDay revealed that the fear by Nigerians to use their debit cards to make online reservations, the lack of trust that the advertised apartments online will be the reality on the ground coupled with security challenges are some of the particular issues that are daunting the growth of Airbnb in Nigeria.

According to Airbnb, the platform has continuously enjoyed rapid growth in Africa. The number of guests who use Airbnb annually in Africa more than doubled over the past year from 572,000 to 1.2 million.

The figures show a 5th straight year of strong growth from a base of just 6,000 listings and 22,700 guests in 2012-2013.

Originally called AirBed & Breakfast, Airbnb operates as an online marketplace, connecting travelers with local hosts. The platform enables people to list their available space and earn extra rental income. It enables travelers to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hotel beds or hotel rooms. Using Airbnb, travelers and tourists can save money and have a chance to interact with locals.

Airbnb in Nigeria can be described using the already established e-hailing industry which has major players like Uber, Bolt and OCar. According to industry experts, it will be correct to call Airbnb the Uber of houses.

“The same way people use their cars to sign up on Uber, Lyft or Taxify services to earn income, is the same way people rent out their houses for the short term using Airbnb. Uber has pioneered the aggregation of transportation at scale. Airbnb has also done the same in the hospitality sector,” William & Partners, Lagos-based real estate surveyors and valuers said.

Airbnb has been operational in Nigeria since 2014 and has given rise to hybrid hotels where people build houses and don’t rent them out to tenants nor label them as hotels but rent them out completely on the Airbnb platform, thereby making more money and avoiding taxes.

Meanwhile, before Uber became established and its relative success drowned most of the misgivings of Nigerians, there was a lot of scepticism at the idea of giving rides to total strangers.

“It simply was unthinkable, but it eventually happened,” an industry player said.

Industry experts are optimistic that Airbnb in Nigeria will see the break of dawn if only measures are put in place to grow the young industry.

According to William & Partners, the possibility of Airbnb catching on is high as long as the hosts provide their guests with great experiences. “It is up to us to get it right with professionalism and customer service,” it said.

The Lagos-based real estate firm said there is a large market of international guests that use Airbnb. Thus, “focusing on that market will yield better results than targeting domestic clients who are hesitant to use their bank cards. As a host, one simply needs to provide a secure location and maintain good reviews and ratings to win the trust of new guests.”

Founded on August 1st, 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk Airbnb started by hosting guests on air mattresses in their living room.

The founders effectively turned their apartment into a bed and breakfast. They did this when all the hotels around them were fully booked before a popular conference.

They sold four spots in their apartment, provided their guests with breakfast and showed them around the local neighborhood.

Having received massive funding of $4.4 billion till December 2017, Airbnb is a part of the billion-dollar club with a valuation of $31 billion.



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