Airbnb, the online marketplace that offers and arranges lodging for travelers and tourists, is seeing broad gains in Nigeria. Thanks mostly to Lagos and Abuja, Airbnb has seen a dramatic increase over the last few years.
This jump is a bit anomalous considering that Nigeria typically is not seen as a haven or destination for tourists- the sector typically responsible for upticks in lodging stays.
Conversely, Nigeria’s demand for Airbnb lodging is primarily due to inter-country travelers and the thousands of Nigerians living in diaspora that frequently visit home.
The convenience, ease and familiarity of using the Airbnb interface is also a reason for the increase in usage in Nigeria. Savvy Nigerians are keen and quickly adapt and adopt new technologies that improve efficiencies and provide in many cases an economic savings from the traditional methods.
Other factors that have helped the increase in bookings can be attributed to those looking to trace their roots back to the motherland as well as adventure and experience seekers that are looking for unique and memorable lodging.
Airbnb launched in Africa in 2013. Since then, there has been a steady increase in listings, from a meager 25 thousand to now well over 130,000 thousand with more than 3.5 million guests checking in. The largest contributors to this dramatic spike are Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique. These regions according to Airbnb make them part of the eight fastest markets globally.
Hotel room deficits are another reason why Nigerians are choosing to use Airbnb for their leisure stays. With a shortage of available hotel rooms, lodgers have been forced to use services such as Airbnb, to accommodate their needs.
Airbnb units in many cases have distinct advantages over traditional hotel stays. Some units offer the entire residence, others are ultra modern luxury flats that travelers are fast becoming accustomed to.
These units provide a unique appeal that most hotel rooms cannot compete with. The temporary illusion of lodging in a large privately owned estate or penthouse suite creates a sense of exclusivity and privilege.
Airbnb listings are also a revenue booster for individuals and investors, creating additional streams of income, from their main job. Other savvy real estate developers are using these units as their main source of cash-flow, and are creating lucrative businesses in the process.
We expect Airbnb to continue to make strides in Nigeria and hopefully they will expand to other cities such as Calabar, Port Harcourt and Kano. These select cities will need major infrastructure improvements if they want compete for a piece of the lodging pie.
After all, visitors not only want a nice place to lay their head, but more frequently they are seeking a positive and memorable “experience” when they travel- lets hope our chosen cities come to the table prepared.