Airbnb teams up with Rio Games to provide rooms for fans

GMT 16:32 2015 Friday ,27 March

Arab Today, arab today Airbnb teams up with Rio Games to provide rooms for fans

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia
Rio de Janeiro - AFP

Organizers of next year's Rio Olympics and online accommodation provider Airbnb on Friday signed a partnership agreement to provide thousands of fans with a place to stay during the three-week event.
The deal will see Airbnb provide 20,000 rooms during the first Games in South America but as many as 80,000 could be made available, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told a presentation in Rio.
Gebbia and Games CEO Sidney Levy inked the agreement which link fans buying tickets -- which go on sale from Tuesday --  through to the Airbnb website.
"Airbnb will be the official alternative accommodation services provider for the 2016 Olympic Games," said Gebbia, whose company started up in 2008.
"We're ready to show them what traditional authentic Brazilian hospitality looks like," he added.
The arrangement is the first of its kind at a Games -- organizers additionally have traditional large-scale accommodation in place with hotels.
But the linkup with Airbnb takes the pressure off after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed fears over Rio's ability to free up 40,000 hotel rooms in time for the Games, which start August 5 next year.
Some four million of those rooms are at hotels still under construction.
Airbnb, which boasts 17 million users worldwide, is already popular with Brazilians and foreign visitors who wish to rent a room in an owner's house, typically undercutting the price of a hotel room.
Gebbia said one advantage is greater cultural interchange such accommodation services provide with tourists typically spending around half their visit budget on the area where they stay.
"Rio is one of the top destinations on Airbnb with over 20,000 listings in 80 neighborhoods," Gebbia explained.
Bringing tourists to areas sometimes off the beaten hotel track would, he said, "extend capacity and boost economic empowerment" of service providers.
Hotel prices rise exponentially in Rio in high season and for events such as carnival and New Year but the home bed and breakfast concept provides a budget alternative.
"We want to make sure there are affordable options -- our hosts love caring for guests," said Gebbia.
Daniel Almeida, a host from the Santa Teresa district and a former yoga instructor, told AFP his business was now his main income stream.
"This is a big rising trend. As a host you really want to help bring the local culture to your guests. Hotels provide a 'colder' service," said Almeida.
"If you treat guests well and exceed expectations they'll come back -- and send their friends.
"Rio is perfect for this open sharing culture. You can offer flexible and modest pricing -- it's not about getting rich."
Given the shortage of hotel capacity, Rio city hall encouraged tourists to stay in private houses during last year's football World Cup and the 2013 visit of Pope Francis, albeit without signing off any deals such as that now put in place with the Rio Games organizers.


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