The home accommodation provider Airbnb is holding a workshop this week in the Cook Islands as part of a regional push to try to attract more locals to join.
The company has teamed up with Pacific Trade Invest Australia to provide training through a series of workshops across the Pacific.
The first workshop was in Samoa back in February, and the Cook Islands is holding theirs on 6 April.
Cook Islands Tourism’s marketing manager says she’s witnessed rapid growth in this type of accommodation already.
Karla Eggelton told Sara Vui-Talitu the workshops are being seen as a way to empower locals to earn a living with minimal investment.
KARLA EGGELTON: In the last few years, Airbnb has become a major portal for business and for tourism in the Cook Islands. The philosophy behind Airbnb makes it a perfect match for what we do here in the Cook Islands and obviously the international recognition of the brand just helps solidify the work we do in the tourism industry.
SARA VUI-TALITU: So does it have a good reputation?
KE: Absolutely. Airbnb as a company and as their philosophy offers an opportunity for ordinary people like you and I to be able to enter into an economic sector to help boost business for themselves.
SV: I am just wondering why should Pacific people have to pay a company to be able to do this?
KE: Airbnb is a brand where they started off and you have lots of high powered online travel agencies or OTA companies that go out and sell hotel rooms to visitors or people looking to travel to destinations. Airbnb started up by saying look you dont actually have to have money to pay for hotels to travel. If you have a spare couch or you have a spare room in your house then we can find people who are wanting to pay less money on accommodation but still be able to travel and have wonderful experiences. And so Airbnb was born from that philosophy that anybody, if you are wanting to be a host and welcome visitors to your country, or your destination city or your village, then all you had to do is offer a room or a couch to help these holiday people experience your destination. And from that, it has now grown to include thousands of destinations, hundreds of thousands of rooms, and it now provides for people like Cook Islands people to think about opening up their rooms or their houses to be able to host visitors to their country.
SV: I am curious, what type of impact has this had on say neighbours of people offering Airbnb accommodation?
KE: People who want to book a room via Airbnb tend to have a special profile. It is likely that these people are wanting an interactive experience and they want to live like a local and they want to really get beneath the skin of a destination. They want more than just a holiday they want real experiences in that culture. So when it comes to neighbours we are not talking about people who just want to have parties and the like. People who are looking to have entertainment will probably be more likely to stay in mainstream properties. Airbnb offers the opportunity to really live like a local and have local experiences. So I think that for neighbours it would be welcomed in the sense that you are sharing a part of your place with like minded people who appreciate these things.
SV: Does Airbnb have any impact on say resort or hotel type accommodation numbers, where you also book directly?
KE: Well in the Cook Islands a good percentage, like more than 25% of our room stock, is allocated to the holiday homes market, which includes Airbnb. So we actually take priority and we think it is very important that we have a really great mix of options available to the visitor. And so the impact on hotels and for the resorts we think is that it enhances what our hotels have to offer.
(Source: RNZ Radio New Zealand Dateline Pacific 05 April 2018)