Everything you should know about Airbnb in Nigeria
First of all, before I say anything, I’ll like to start by explaining what Airbnb is all about. Lots of people in Nigeria don’t even know what Airbnb is and the ones who know don’t even know its in Nigeria. So, the big question is “What is Airbnb?”
The easiest way to explain Airbnb is just to call it the Uber of houses. The same way people use their private cars to signup on Uber, Lyft or Taxify services in order to earn an income, that’s exactly the way people rent out their houses on short terms using Airbnb. Airbnb is a marketplace that allows people to rent affordable but nice accommodation for a short period of time. It has really become very popular around the world to the point that hotel owners are protesting heavily in some countries due to lack of customers because of cheaper accommodations on Airbnb.
Even though Airbnb has been in Nigeria for a long while, it has failed to enjoy the same attention and popularity which is given to Uber. If you go to South Africa, almost everyone in Cape Town and Johannesburg is turning their homes to Airbnb. The level of penetration is very deep in SouthAfrica but in Nigeria is a different story.
How it all began?
The company was founded in August 2008 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia and its headquarter is located in San Francisco. Brian and Joe could not afford to pay their rent so they came up with an idea to turn their parlour into a small guest room and provide breakfast for guests. That’s how the company was born and it has since grown into a multi-billion dollar industry offering lodging services all over the world.
How it works and how Airbnb makes their money
The process is very simple and straight forward just like booking a hotel online. The owner of the apartment takes photos of the fully furnished apartment list it on the website and set his price. Then you go to the site, enter the dates you need it, how many adults and children you’re bringing along and so on. Then the site displays a catalogue of available Airbnbs for you to rent.
The host (homeowner) makes his money and the company takes their small cut as well.
In some countries, you can even buy other packages from the host such as touring guidance and so on. The company makes its money by charging service fees from the house owner.
Airbnb security measures
Of course, Nigeria as a country has big very big security challenges and that’s why the company has very strict security policies and measures carefully put in place to protect both the host and the guest. Since all the Airbnbs are furnished by the host, damages or theft could be done by the guest. This is a major problem with Airbnb all over the world. The company has a 247 customer service team and also has insurance arrangements in case of theft or damages. They also offer refunds to disgruntled customers as well as rebooking assistance and many more. To ensure safety, Airbnb must verify personal profiles and listings in order for scammers not to take advantage of the platform to scam unsuspecting victims.
Problems with Airbnb in Nigeria and why the service is not as popular as Uber
It is no secret that Airbnb in Nigeria is on a very low key. Only a few reviews are available on their websites which means its not really being patronized as much as it’s supposed to be. No much attention is given to the service and Nigerians still prefer the old school way of lodging in hotels. Instead of taking advantages of this new technology.
Truth is, there are some major factors which I observed that has made the service not to expand much and get the kind of attention needed to make the brand disruptive in the Nigeria real estate industry. Most of the people who use the service in Nigeria are mostly foreign-based Nigerians. As well as foreigners who just wanted a place to stay for a few days. Listed below are some of the problems with Airbnb in Nigeria.
While browsing through the website I noticed that all of the listings are in dollars and not in Naira. That already rings a warning bell in heart of an average Nigerian that its a service strictly for the rich.
This is not supposed to be so but considering the fact that Airbnb is designed to be cheaper than hotels of the same living standard. Our currency is badly devaluated, that makes it looks expensive already. Considering the fact that one Airbnb which cost $45 per night is approximately N16,200. Not only that, there are also additional charges involved. There are cheaper hotel rooms available for less than the amount and are still comfortable. Airbnb is supposed to be cheaper than hotels but in this case, the opposite seems to be the norm.
I think they should change their listings to naira instead of dollars, maybe it will attract more attention.
Very few locations
I saw a very limited location available while going through the website. Currently, Airbnb only operates in Lagos and Abuja (I’m not very sure yet) and from what I saw, the available apartments are all in the high-class areas of Lekki, VGC, Ikeja, Ikoyi, Magodo, Victoria Island and so on. So if you want to stay you only have those limited options.
Probably the worst challenge of them all. Looking at the high crime rate in the country, many people are afraid of listing their homes on the service. Mainly because they’re completely scared of bringing total strangers into their homes. Despite the company verifying the guests. There are still numerous bad incidents going on between hosts and guests of Airbnb all over the world. You don’t know if the person is a kidnapper, armed robber, yahoo boy, ritualist, rapist, murderer etc. This has made people stay avoid service in Nigeria.
Strictly not a business for the average Nigerian to consider
Looking at the pictures of tastefully furnished apartments on display on the website. You’ll know that Airbnb is not a business an average man in Nigeria can venture into. Where will he get the money for expensive furniture, electronics, air conditions, carpets, duvets and so on to meet the standard? Where will he get money to rent and furnish apartments in Ikoyi, Lekki, Victoria Island, VGC and so on? To venture into this business you must be comfortable already in order to get this kind of apartment? The reason Uber is successful is that it made it such that average people can participate with their own affordable cars.
Lack of awareness
Remember I started this article complaining of how many Nigerians don’t even know the service even exists in the first place. There’s no form of awareness. No effective marketing programs going on to let the people know of this new service in town. For every 100 persons in Nigeria who know about Uber. Only 10 of them know about Airbnb and only 5 knows that they’re in Nigeria. That’s pretty bad.