Almost 1 million people used Airbnb in Scandinavia last year, and overnighted more than 3 million times. In 2007, the two design graduates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, struggled to pay their rent. They solved their problem by renting out three air mattresses in their living room and serving a simple breakfast.
They built their own website “Airbed and Breakfast”, and the idea of Airbnb was born.
In Scandinavia, where budget hotel rooms are $130 plus a night, rentals make a good option. And Airbnb makes it possible to experience Denmark, Norway and Sweden with all what the three countries have to offer, especially during the summer: fjords, fishing, wide-open spaces for hiking and camping, not to mention clean and culture-rich cities, dramatic evidence of a Viking past and the richness of the indigenous Sami present in Lapland.
In 2012, thanks to 3 million guests booking overnight stays through Airbnb, the two entrepreneurs rivaled Hilton Hotels in terms of the number of bookable rooms – without owning a single hotel.
Since 2009, 711,000 customers have used Airbnb’s service to arrange overnight accommodation in Denmark, and the vast majority used the service in the past year. Some 405,000 visited overnighted 1.7 million times during that period.
In Norway 197,000 visitors rented an Airbnb facility with an average stay of more than one night.
The range of places to rent is vast, from small cheap rooms to castles or mansions. One host in Copenhagen rents out at a low price in return for guests spending a few hours with her children.
Aja Guldhammer Henderson, the country manager for Scandinavia and the Netherlands told the Danish radio, “This year, 2015, has truly been the year when the Danes embraced the idea of shared accommodation: both travelers and hosts.”
To the Norwegian paper DN she says, “Accommodation is only one of the travel industry’s source of income, which means Airnbnb helps the whole industry to increased revenue.”
People started to use each other’s houses and apartments as part of a larger global trend called the sharing economy, which is also about a change in consumption patterns. Instead of buying services from companies, people are swapping, renting, or borrowing directly from one other.
“Airbnb is not so unlike the signs along the main roads not many years ago, offering ‘rooms for rent’,” says Per-Arne Tuftin, director of Innovation Norway Travel.
The hotel industry leaders are, however, critical of the Airbnb business model, claiming that is not a sharing of resources, but a business.
According to Tuftin, Airbnb is not representing a treat to the hotel industry. Of estimated 30 million overnight stays in Norway, Airbnb’s share is only 1 million.
Claus Skytte, who has written several books on shared finance, said the hotel industry is simply outmoded. “Perhaps the industry should embrace the new technology and be a part of it,” he says.
Anna Felländer, digitization and future economist at Swedbank, agrees. “The sharing economy is shining a spotlight on everything that is somewhat over-regulated,” she says.
Our society is becoming increasingly globalized, and services we use are no longer conditional borders. Kodak is a clear example of how wrong things can go when denying new trends. The popular photo company went from being the world’s most powerful provider in photography, with 145,000 employees, to slowly die out when other businesses began to flourish. They did not understand the customer’s needs.
Traveling in Scandinavia with Airbnb makes it possible to see a lot more of the countries than the big cities. Advantage of Airbnb is that you can rent nice villas, houses, apartments and share them with traveling friends.
Copycats are popping up all over. In Sweden, a new startup, Workaround, is looking to emulate Airbnb’s success. “Companies such as Uber and Airbnb have opened the doors for the sharing economy,” Rikard Hegelund, co-founder and CEO of Workaround, told Dagens Industri recently.
With Airbnb you can find something for every budget.
Room for Rent in Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Appartment in Oslo, Norway
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Across the world, 17 million guests stayed with Airbnb last summer, and there were fewer than 300 calls to the department that handles issues relating to trust and safety.
Airbnb now has a range of different security systems in place to ensure the safety of all users. For example, there are systems where users have to verify their identity.