Airbnb’s Localization In China

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Airbnb is one of the few global products that’s not banned in China. That means they have to get their localization right in order to compete with local alternatives like tujia.com or xiaozhu.com. Starting with a name change to “Abiyang”, listen to what the team at Airbnb China has done.

This is episode #20 of my speaking practice, also known as the Localization Podcast 🙂 #localization​ and #translation​ news across social media delivered to you by the power of my voice. #TM​


Andrej Zito 

Hello, everyone, this is Andre and this is the legendary Episode Number 20 of the localization podcast. Just like last episode, I will only have one article for this episode. And also, as I was just going through the articles that are shortlisted for this this week, I kind of like felt like, like, I’m not sure, like if this whole experience is bringing me that much joy. And I really think that I would rather be interviewing people and having like, some conversations because like, well, this is nice. And I basically go through everything that’s been posted on social media. And by that I mean Twitter and LinkedIn, mainly, I have kind of like overview of like, what everybody like in the industry is posting, because I do actually look at all the posts that have the localization hashtag. And that kind of like keeps me like this perspective.

Andrej Zito 

And I feel like like a mom like on top, like what’s happening. I don’t know if like, the whole format is for me, and it’s sustainable for me to do it in the future. But I did say this many times that like, is my goal to turn this into more of a q&a format. So I think that this might be actually the last episode that I do on my own. And so instead of doing this every week, maybe just to keep the consistency and to keep the rhythm. I think I should just focus my time on finding the guests and inviting them to the podcast. Because I don’t think that my idea and the way I want to structure the podcast with guests is, is is bad. And I think it will be something unique. So I think I should read or focus on that instead of just doing my, you know, solo speaking practice that I think that has helped me a little bit. any case, in any way to this article, and let’s just get right into it, because I don’t want to delay the intro too much.

Andrej Zito 

This one will be about air BnB China. And if you also do similar thing that I do that is that you look at what’s happening on social media for for localization, then actually I’ve seen quite a lot of posts last week, and maybe even the week before, because everybody was praising Airbnb because now I think they like double the number of languages that Airbnb is available in. But I will not be talking about that. I found this article. It’s from MSN. MSN, yes. Microsoft news. I think that’s that’s what it means. Microsoft news.com and it’s about Airbnb, China. And I think this is an it’s not an interview, but it’s like some faults or quotes from the president of Airbnb, China. And he said that localization is key if they want to be successful in the country. So in this article, which was posted four days ago, and today, FYI is Saturday, November 23, and I’m recording at 12:52pm.

Andrej Zito 

So, back to the article rbn President Tao ping explains how Airbnb is making subtle changes to its platform to make it work in China. Airbnb has hired 500 staff in Beijing to build a customized version of the platform, which includes a different front page and the ability to pay with WeChat pay and Ali pay. To travel Jan has also changed its name to our biank in China. So three key things to how they’re localizing and adopting the whole Airbnb for the Chinese market. Home sharing platform Airbnb needs to localize itself. platform if it’s going to be successful in China. According to Tao Pang, president of Airbnb China, the San Francisco headquartered tech firm, which is set to IPO next year, has built a customized app in China and rebend rebranded itself to being as part of an effort to appeal to more Chinese consumers.

Andrej Zito 

Eastern culture is very different from Western culture. Panksepp Tuesday at CNBC, East tech West Conference in the nansha district of Guangzhou, China, we devote a lot of resources to localize he said, adding that Airbnb has more than doubled its headcount in Beijing, to 500 staff during 2019. In order to convince China’s 1.4 billion people to use its platform, Airbnb is trying to ensure that Airbnb China is built by Chinese engineers for Chinese people, Pang set. The exact admitted that Airbnb initially had lots of issues with its front page in China. With the front page in China, because Chinese people interact with the internet differently to those in the West, to get around the issues. Airbnb customize its front page in China, when you open it, it is different to the US paying said adding that people tend to use promotions, and search in order to find accommodation.

Andrej Zito 

So I was actually curious to how they change that. So just to give you kind of like, audio representation of what the changes are. So right now I’m looking at Airbnb, Canada. And it shows like one big background image on the on the front page on the top, and there’s the search form on the top left, where you can select where you go, when you check in when you want to check out and how many guests you have. But when I go and actually also FYI, the background image is kinda like, it looks like a very special house or small house that’s built on top of some power is like a wooden tower. I thought it was like a like for hunters, but it actually looks like it’s like a recommendation. And it looks like it’s like surrounded by Woods. So it’s just just a property. It’s like a very unique one.

Andrej Zito 

Now when I go to Airbnb, China, so of course everything is in Chinese. But the search bar to search for your location has different format. So while the Canadian one is basically the only form that you see on the homepage, on the on the on the top. And FYI, I’m of course looking at this on the desktop, the Chinese one has carousel. So that’s the one how to descriptors. So that’s the one that kind of like, goes through different images that are like a background at the top of your website. And all of these images contain, I suppose, Chinese people. So that’s first kind of like a way to localize thing, localize things, and then the search, which is what they mentioned that how they search for things. In China. The search here kind of like reminds me of when you search for flights on Skyscanner or, or on kiwi.com. So the form is pretty much just one line.

Andrej Zito 

It’s very horizontal. We are while on the Canadian one and how soon also on the on the US one you have this like like a box like a square format with many different things. And if we’re talking about like the website and the design, I think it’s called top of the fold or something like that. So it’s like the first thing that you see before you like start scrolling down. So what what is like really like the primary thing on on the website, so on Canadian one, and as I was explaining, it’s really just a search, search box search form. And that big image of that unique house which I assume it’s in Oregon. But the Chinese won the search bar and the hero image only covers like half of my house. on my screen, and then on the bottom half, I can already see like some of the listings. So yeah, the structure is a little bit different. So that’s about the homepage.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, let’s go back to the article. Well, people in the West tend to make online payments with credit cards. People in China use digital platforms like Alibaba, Ali pay, and 10 cents WeChat. Airbnb, which has 7 million properties globally on its platform, work with Alibaba and Tencent to ensure Chinese customers could use these payment platforms to make their bookings. penk also explained the logic behind new are being named in China. It is hard to pronounce, but I think it captures the meaning he said, it means love and welcome each other. I think we chose the name because it makes you feel excited and passionate. It feels very natural. I mean, Kroenke, a managing director for travel commerce platform, Travelport, sent on the same panel at the East tech West Conference, the way Asia uses technology can be very different.

Andrej Zito 

The reliance on mobile is very different from a western country. So coming to China, you really have to appreciate that and understand how you can localize and utilize those sticks. That’s the end of the article. I thought I had a little bit more for this article. Yeah. So when I was thinking about this, you know, I was thinking because like, you know, like in China, most of the popular internet services like search or shopping, they have like their own versions. And they block typically block the their services that are popular in the rest of the world, like Google, for example, or YouTube. So I was wondering, since Airbnb is kind of like setting up their own version in in China. So I was wondering, like, if China doesn’t already have any alternatives to Airbnb? Of course, they do.

Andrej Zito 

And I found two that I want to briefly mention, I think the biggest one, it’s called tujia. So that’s spelled t UJ a.com. And the second one that I found is called shell, you know, browsing this correctly. So that’s XIAZ hq.com. And yeah, and so when I look@tujia.com search is almost the same as on the Chinese version of Airbnb. And it looks very, very similar. And from what I read when I was looking for these alternatives, so these two sites are only available in Chinese, so they’re completely focused on the Chinese customers. And from what I found, although the articles were like pretty old was that tujia has like five times more listings in China than Airbnb. But of course, if you are for interest in planning to go to China, you probably want to use tujia, or the Xiang shoe. Because, well, they’re not available in English.

Andrej Zito 

So you would still probably have to rely on Google Translate, which is the paradox that Google Translate help you get accommodation in China using a Chinese site. But yeah, I feel a little bit embarrassed, but I don’t know. Let’s let’s give it a try. Because I’m just looking at the time that I spend recording, and it’s really just 14 minutes. So this will be the very shortest episode of Galician podcast. I even feel that maybe I won’t even promote it. Like why. So I’ll just probably post it, and I’ll do the final edits. And also, by the way, this one I won’t be even uploading to YouTube, because recently when I was looking at length of videos and analytics, all the recordings from the localization podcast, they have like very low amount of use and they have also very Although engagement, so maybe when I started doing the interviews, maybe I’ll reintroduce them.

Andrej Zito 

But we’ll see. So that’s going to be it for this episode number 20 on Google acquisition podcast, if you get to this point, thank you for listening. And stay tuned. I don’t know when I’ll drop number, Episode Number 21. And as I said, I think I need to stick to it, I have to just find a guest to make this more of a conversational podcast and I think it will give you a lot more entertainment, especially like once I start feeling a little bit more relaxed because it’s difficult for me to you know, to make jokes when I’m just talking to myself. So, again, thank you for listening and please stay tuned for episode number 21. Bye

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