Paris is now the most popular city in the world on Airbnb. And France is the second largest market for the short-term housing rental website. Spotlight on the success story of this global leader of the sharing economy.

Just a few figures suffice to measure the extraordinary success of California startup Airbnb since its Paris office opened in 2012. In Paris, the platform, allowing individuals to occasionally sublet their residence, now counts nearly 60,000 listings, putting it ahead of cities like New York or London. And this success has extended all across France, where, in four years, the number of home rental listings rose from 7,000 to 200,000.  “This has allowed more than 6.5 million travelers to visit France since2008,” commented Sarah Roy, communications manager for Airbnb France, a team of 25 people responsible for facilitating the French user community and developing the local market through promotional activities. “Additionally, France is second-ranked in terms of travelers who use the service to find accommodations: 4.1 million French people have traveled with Airbnb,” she added.

Target: €10 billion in 2020

Several factors explain why this heavyweight of the collaborative economy is so popular in France. Above all, the international image of France, which remains, for many tourists, a distinctive destination; 77% of Airbnb travelers in France are from Europe. The exhaustive range of listed properties is also attractive for customers, who are sometimes in search of unusual places to stay (renovated castles, garrets, etc.). And of course, there is the financial attractiveness, because the service makes it possible for nearly anyone to rent his home for a few days and earn a little extra money. On average, an Airbnb host earns €1,970 annually. The renters also economize: in Paris, an Airbnb costs an average of €97 per night, against €160 for professional hotels. The website, in turn, makes money from a commission charged to the host (3%) and the traveler (6-12%). Worldwide, their estimated turnover in 2015 is around €800 million. And, reflecting the exponential success of Airbnb, Brian Chesky – the platform’s founder – has targeted €10 billion in revenue for 2020.

A result of changing attitudes

Yet, according to Sarah Roy, the prospect of atypical experiences motivates the hosts, even more than their interest in earning additional revenue. “Some users like to cultivate their sense of hospitality. Being able to meet new people by offering them a place to stay allows hosts to travel while staying athome.” This change in peoples’ perspectives is increasingly touching all layers of society. “There is no typical user profile on Airbnb,” said Roy. “From students to retirees, everyone uses Airbnb to travel. And we are increasingly chosen by families, who like to stay in houses that include all the equipment they need. They see it as a logistical and financial win. What’s more, more and more business travelers are also using our service to find a place to stay for a few days, where they have the feeling of being at home while they are away.Airbnb plans to continue its expansion strategy across France in 2016, with a big focus on the mobile app. Two undertakings should support this growth. First, clarifying their legal framework, by working with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The collection of the tourist tax, already in force in Paris, will be gradually extended to other cities in France,” said Roy. Second, strengthening the supply of housing in vacation areas, especially in the mountains. Have a nice stay!

Airbnb France in brief…♦ Paris, 9th arrondissement
♦ 25 employees
176,800 accommodations booked for 3.9 million travelers in France via Airbnb between September 2014 and August 2015
♦ Airbnb hosts in France have earned additional revenue of €481 million
13% of hosts are retirees
Originally published in Succeed in Paris
Author: Marc Hervez
Credit: Airbnb – Founders