- Shown, Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, Dec. 11, 2012.
A houseboat on the Seine for as little as 3,700 rupees a night. A private island in Fiji for 13,500 rupees. An igloo in Greenland for 8,760 rupees. A castle in Himachal Pradesh for 2,700 rupees.
Airbnb, a U.S. company that offers a marketplace to book vacations in other people’s homes, this month launched an Indian version of its popular website.
In the last few months, Airbnb has listed about 4,500 Indian properties, which also include palaces in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and an island off the coast of Kerala.
“There are some amazing properties in India and we have already got several queries,” said Joe Gebbia, the company’s co-founder and chief product officer, who was in India last week for the launch of the Indian website.
The focus on India means more potential rental properties for U.S. visitors to the country. The new website also means Indian customers can pay for rentals in the local rupee currency using local banks.
Airbnb, based in San Francisco, runs a website that allows people to rent out their properties for holidays and makes money by taking up to a 15% cut of transactions.
The portal lists 300,000 properties across 33,000 cities in 192 countries, ranging from private rooms to manors, yachts to tree houses.
The company was started in 2008 by Mr. Gebbia and his room-mate Brian Chesky, when they let out their living room as a “bed and breakfast” accommodation to help make their rent.
“Interestingly, one of our first three guests was an Indian named Amol,” said Mr Gebbia.
That left them with $1,000 in capital and a business idea which soon became popular. Within a year, the company got a $600,000 investment from U.S. venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
The company started with 75 properties in New York. Today, Mr. Gebbia says, 70% of its income comes from outside the U.S.
The portal comes to India at a time when personal wealth in India is on the rise, leading more people to look for novel vacation options.
Per capita income in India rose 17.5% last year to 59,601 rupees, according to government data. The number of super-wealthy individuals also is increasing. The country had 61 billionaires last year, according to a list compiled by Forbes magazine, four more than the previous year.