Airbnb — a community-driven hospitality company — will introduce its recently-launched platform “Trips” in India next year. From getting a glimpse of its diverse culture and history, to experiencing fast-paced, modern India, the upgrade is a great opportunity for people to experience the country in different ways, says the head of the firm.

Be it a dance tour, historical walk, musical tour, star gazing or exploring off-road trails — the company moved beyond accommodations by expanding its horizons with the addition of hosting experiences and tours. The upgrade was announced at the recently-concluded Airbnb Open 2016 here.

It is available in 12 cities, including Detroit, London, Paris, Nairobi, Tokyo, Seoul and San Francisco. And they plan to broaden their base next year with the addition of 50 cities, including Delhi.

Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb India Country Manager, says Delhi — with its culturally-rich as well as modern backdrop — will be a great start.

“Delhi is a great example of a rich blend of culture and history. It is a great city to start with. If we look at India as a whole, we are known for rich culture and diversity which changes after every 50 kms… It is a great opportunity for people to come and experience India in different ways,” Bajaj told IANS.

“Starting with Delhi is to understand what people think (of the new addition). Delhi is a great blend of old, contemporary, heritage as well as modern and cosmopolitan… you can unlock culture and places in a very different way.”

Bajaj asserts that they plan to see how the new addition is received by people before taking it to other parts of the country. “We want to make sure that people understand what Airbnb is all about. We plan to go one city at a time.”

Founded in 2008, Airbnb made the concept of home stay popular, and at present has three million homes under its umbrella. India hosts a listing of 18,000 properties, but the concept is fairly new in the country.

Bajaj says the idea is gaining popularity as “sharing culture, experience and welcoming guests into your home” is the essence of Indian culture.

“We have seen some great growth in the last 12 months… Contrary to the common belief that we are conservative, I think we go by the belief of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’,” said Bajaj, who will soon complete two years with the company.

Talking about the growth of Airbnb in India, he said: “We have seen a great momentum that is getting built in India as foreigners come and stay in Airbnb… We are confident that it will grow faster.”

“It is a very exciting time in India right now — more people are travelling, more people are active on the internet, more people are looking at unique, authentic local experiences. Although people travel to famous places, new destinations are also coming up.”

For now, Bajaj is focusing on curating special experiences that Delhi can offer for the Trips platform — which focuses on three key areas — experiences, places and homes.

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of Airbnb. Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])

By Sugandha Rawal

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