Business with No Internet, No Credit Cards – by Airbnb


Airbnb is showing how to do business with No Internet, No Credit Cards based on the Cuban Circumstances. A recent article from Sara Kessler, Editor at FastCompany, provides insight regarding Cuba and the solution Airbnb found in order to generate income and help the traveling community grow in such an attractive traveling destination.

The Internet penetration is quite low in Cuba as we could estimate that around 15%of the population has a connection to the online, as a consequence that Until 2008, Cubans were banned from buying their own computer. Meanwhile, having a bank account is uncommon. We could ask ourselves: Do Cubans prefer cash? One expert mentions that at the moment they do not trust anything else, at least not yet.

‘Thankfully for Airbnb, however, it didn’t have to start from scratch. It simply tapped into an existing network of middlemen.’

The online distribution market place has partnered Internet Cafes for hosting that were already facilitating bookings online. These small firms already had connections with most of the homes for rent on the island, and already charged them a fee for management services. Now they handle also Airbnb listings. Even for hosts who have bank accounts, Airbnb needs to work with intermediaries to deposit funds into their accounts.

Airbnb taught the Internet Cafes how to administrate the Airbnb extranet, and gave support to add descriptions wit high-quality photographs of their homes, keep the availability online instead of paper.  There was a lot of work being done behind the scenes talking to hosts and making sure that the information was up to date and current.

“What Airbnb is doing is formalizing, monetizing, and really announcing Cuban homes.”

Middlemen concept has been existing for a long time in the hospitality industry and is a prevailing reality of today’s industry. Are you a PMS provider, Revenue Management solution or a Channel Management technology? Then this story can teach us all good lesson on how to forge partnerships and collaborate with the local established businesses in order to expand the market share.



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