What Airbnb’s Japan Problem Can Teach Your Startup – Executive Summary – DisruptingJapan.com

This Post is originally from Tim Romero’s excellent Website and Podcast;  Disrupting Japan – Your Inside Track on the Startups Changing Japan. Option to Subscribe to Tim’s Podcast are here

This Executive Summary was written by David Forncrook

Airbnb in Japan is facing some significant operating model challenges in spite of Japan being the second largest market for them worldwide

Based on analysis at the moment Airbnb is dominant in the room-sharing market with at least 5x the rooms available and public website traffic with more than 15 time the traffic of local competition.

Due to the lack of clarity and understanding of hospitality regulations by would be providers it is estimated that up to 90% of the Airbnb listings in Japan are in violation of local statutes compared to 50% in New York

Airbnb has been successful in overcoming legal and cultural challenges faced by hosts in other countries but is facing a backlash in Japan from neighborhood associations, building management companies and landlords.

Most Japanese citizens have little knowledge of Airbnb which is perceived to be used not by Japanese but foreigners thus the hosts and guests are perceived to be meiwaku or .. inconvenience … to others, and tend to be described as discussed as “dangerous”. Even when no one can articulate a specific danger.

Strictly speaking Airbnb is not actually breaking any laws in Japan however its hosts are and this is where regulation could step in to make them partially responsible for violations which ironically could make them a stronger player as a result.

Regulations which make companies like Airbnb at least partially responsible for violations could actually help change public perception and improve services.

It is possible to turn this around by Airbnb and change perceptions to create a better understanding of its service and those who use it by communicating through traditional broadcast media sources with messages that Japanese citizens are the biggest winners as both hosts and guest.