Q & A with Mikel Freemon, Caribbean Regional Manager at Airbnb

02 September 2016 10:04pm
Q & A with Mikel Freemon, Caribbean Regional Manager at Airbnb

Caribbean News Digital Newsroom

Airbnb is gaining momentum in every corner of the earth. In July of 2016, Airbnb crossed a milestone of 100 million guests globally having used the platform, which now offers more than 2.3 million listings around the world.

In such a global event as the Olympic Games, Airbnb played a leading role in Rio de Janeiro by managing most of the accommodations for visitors. This significant influence can also be felt in Cuba, where Airbnb is a pioneer in sharing the Cuban culture through homestays. Caribbean News Digital talked to Mikel Freemon, Caribbean Regional Manager at Airbnb, about the company’s work in Cuba and the Caribbean region.

U.S. scheduled nonstop flights to Cuba teed off on August 31, with JetBlue landing in Santa Clara. How will Airbnb benefit from this development between Cuba and the United States?

We are thrilled about the launch of commercial flights for a few reasons. Travel can be a powerful force for good. We are excited for Cuban Hosts to connect with global travelers through home sharing on a larger scale, facilitated by commercial flights. ?For me, it has also been exciting to hear from fellow employees who are planning to book commercial flights to reunite with friends and family members on the island. ?

How many homes does the company already manage on the island?

We currently offer more than 8,000 homes on the island. It’s the fastest growing market in the company’s history.

According to your records, what Cuban regions do Airbnb’s customers visit the most?

Havana is by far the most visited, followed by Viñales and Trinidad.

What are the main tourist outbound countries for the Cuban market, by means of your website?

U.S. travelers from all fifty states have stayed at an Airbnb in Cuba, primarily coming from California, New York, Florida and Texas. And, we recently opened the platform to offer accommodations in Cuba to travelers from around the world.

How important do you think the presence of Airbnb in Cuba is at the moment?

I think about this in two parts. The first is around home sharing, specifically the culture exchange and the friendships that often ensue - that is important.

And the second is about entrepreneurship. Whether it is homes, cars, or other services, the sharing economy empowers people to become micro-entrepreneurs. We’ve been supporting Cuba’s growing entrepreneurial community by connecting casas particulares to a global community. On average, our Cuban hosts earn $250 per booking, which is valuable supplemental income and money they can use to reinvest in their homes.

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