Special Report: Airbnb to have another record year in Malaysia

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 15, 2018 - October 21, 2018.
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AIRBNB, the world’s biggest accommodation sharing site, is expected to see its revenue in Malaysia for this year surpass that of last year, data from market analytics firm AirDNA suggests.

In the first six months of this year, Airbnb’s revenue — derived from advertised rates and bookings made — reached US$78.47 million (about RM326 million), which was 71% of 2017’s full-year revenue of US$110.44 million. The 1H2018 figure was also a 96.8% jump from the previous corresponding period.

Similarly, Airbnb’s revenue for Kuala Lumpur alone almost doubled. Revenue in 1H2018 was US$24.09 million, up 90% from US$12.68 million in 1H2017.

If the country’s total tourism receipts for last year — at RM82.1 billion, of which RM21.02 billion went to accommodation — are anything to go by, Airbnb’s revenue made up just 2.2% of the accommodation portion of receipts. Foreigners made up the bulk of its guests, with the majority coming from Singapore, followed by Jakarta, Manila, London and Hong Kong.

Data from AirDNA www.airdna.co also reveals that a handful of Airbnb hosts are making over RM200,000 annually. The top 10 collectively made more than RM2 million between October last year and September this year. AirDNA specialises in the compilation of Airbnb data from all over the world, which it obtains from the hospitality company’s website.

The top property in Malaysia, in terms of revenue, is one that is listed as “La Maison 100 Sri Hartamas” near Plaza Damas, which made RM296,440 in the 12 months to September this year. The property is described as a three-storey semi-detached house furnished with fusion art deco in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. It comes with an elevator, mahjong and karaoke rooms, and barbecue facilities. It has seven rooms and can sleep up to 20 persons.

Second on the list is “Prestigious Penthouse next to KLCC”, which made RM256,819 in the 12 months from October last year. The unit is in Kirana Residence, a low-density condominium next to Ascott Kuala Lumpur. It has seven rooms and can accommodate 16 guests.

The revenue data is derived from the sum of all bookings made, as per the price indicated on Airbnb’s website for those booked days. It is, however, not the total sum that the guests paid, nor is it the amount the company received. Customers have to pay an additional guest fee to Airbnb of between 6% and 12% of the total at checkout on the website, while hosts pay 3%. Airbnb retains what is due to it first, before sending the rest of the money to the hosts.

For example, if a listing advertises a unit for RM100 a night — not including discounts, and before fees — the host will make RM97 a night after paying the service fee of 3%.

It is noteworthy that 69% of the hosts have multiple listings, with more than one property listed on Airbnb. The remaining 31% are single-listing hosts.

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