Approximately 50% of tourists coming to Nicaragua through the Airbnb application are looking to stay in shared spaces, said Carlos Muñoz, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Airbnb for Central America and the Caribbean.
That means, according to Muñoz, that this type of tourist shares the lodging with another person who lives in the house, which in his opinion “creates an immense possibility of a very strong and rich cultural exchange, which promotes the possibility of that person wanting to return to Nicaragua.”
According to the official of Airbnb, the tourist agencies could take advantage of that characteristic to attract more tourists to the country.
“Normally in the region where I work, the Caribbean and Central America, 70% of tourists rent a whole house, that is, do not cohabit with a family or another person. They rent the whole house to go and spend with the family, “he said.
“In Nicaragua I see it as a great opportunity to develop this type of tourism that I mentioned, which is a tourism with a very cultural experience, well personalized, that differentiates this country from others in the region. And it should be noted that many of the tourists who come to Nicaragua are looking for this type of experience and it is an experience that is not achieved in the traditional tourism market,” he said.
Airbnb, the world’s premier hosting business that has no place physically speaking, emerged in 2008 in San Francisco, United States, as an idea of two young college students.
According to Carlos Muñoz, the application has more than two million properties registered, in more than 34,000 cities in 191 countries. It is a company valued at US $ 30 billion.
In Nicaragua there are over 1,000 properties active on Airbnb.
Currently Nicaraguan lodgings registered in Airbnb are concentrated in the Pacific of the country. “There are a lot of holiday homes, beach houses, but at the same time there are houses in Managua, in the mountains and some other offer on the Caribbean coast,” said Carlos Muñoz.
For Muñoz, it is difficult to predict the growth that the use of the Airbnb system of business in Nicaragua could have during the next years.
“Airbnb is an open platform. It is not that we buy hotels or buy properties and that way we can predict what supply we can have in the country. It is an open platform and everything depends on the free market, and how many people want to enter,” said Muñoz.
Airbnb’s Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Central America and the Caribbean participated in the Nica Tech Summit 2017, held last Saturday in Managua, and said that they are starting to socialize a little about what is the “Collaborative economy” and publicize the Airbnb platform, so that more people can participate and enjoy the benefits of the tourism sector.
“We see this platform as a way to democratize what tourism is, because it allows people who have traditionally not been able to participate to participate and receive benefits from that sector,” said the manager of Public Policy and Government Relations of Airbnb for Central America and Caribbean.
Muñoz pointed out that one of the characteristics of the “collaborative economy” is that it does not require a big investment.
In the case of Airbnb the idea is that a person who has a property, whether a whole house or a single vacated room, can enable and offer it through that application to more than 100 million users worldwide, and so generate income for the family.
As part of the recently held Nica Tech Summit 2017 (21 January in Managua), the person who heads up Airbnb’s efforts in Central America spoke and had some interesting things to say, namely that more people using Airbnb to book their lodging in Nicaragua look for shared spaces, i.e. not a whole house but a room or two in a house with other occupants, be they Nicaraguan or foreigners.
The point Mr. Muñoz is making is that this is a higher percentage than other countries in the region and that it is a good thing because this means that, especially for first-time visitors to Nicaragua, they can get a more locals perspective and experience than they would if they didn’t interact with actual Nicaraguans or expats at their rental properties.
Here at El Porton Verde, we certainly believe that, especially for your first and/or last night in Nicaragua, it’s good to get a very comfortable experience and one that is much more personalized than one that you might get just staying at a regular hotel or hostel.
When you are living with a family you get to eat the food they eat, listen and learn about what their lives are all about, and have a chance to ask questions as a visitor that just doesn’t happen in a more corporate or chain hotel type of situation.
As I’ve posted before, I think it’s completely legit to ask the first-time visitor, “why stay at a chain hotel when you can stay with us?” Not only does the visitor get more value for their dollar, yen, euro, pound, etc. you get the experience that totally supersedes having a room at a chain hotel that is pretty much like any other hotel room in that chain. I mean, a Holiday Inn is a Holiday Inn, amiright? 🙂
Another benefit of staying with a place like El Portón Verde is that you get to ask about things like relocation, medical tourism, local tours, beach house rentals, rental car tips, driving tips, and a bunch of other topics that you won’t get any exposure to in a more traditional lodging option like a big hotel chain.
If this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will? If you have a question about the value proposition that places like El Portón Verde offers, please comment below!