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Business

Airbnb building support network for hosts in Japan

Ahead of deregulation, US company aims to boost guest experience

More and more foreigners are using Airbnb accommodations in Japan.   © (Photo by Emma Hardy)

TOKYO -- Airbnb has joined hands with staffing company Pasona to train people in Japan to support the U.S. company's signature business of offering private homes as lodging for travelers -- a practice known as minpaku here.

Starting next year, the Pasona Group unit will offer workshops and training sessions for homemakers and others on cleaning, managing website listings, and other tasks essential to private-home rentals.

In smaller localities of Japan, many elderly citizens have homes available for rent, but in many cases they are unable to handle peripheral work like cleaning and customer service. Meanwhile, those who do not own homes available for rent can support in these tasks by learning the work via Pasona's training.

Workshops will also be offered, starting in June, to people interested in offering their homes as lodging accommodations. These will take place in seven localities including Tokyo and Osaka, with the aim of deepening people's understanding of relevant regulations and encouraging them to get in the business. The target is to have thousands of homeowners sign up in a year.

Unlike hotels and other lodging staffed by professionals, private home renting is handled by amateurs. Many foreigners visiting Japan use this lodging arrangement, so one of the concerns is overcoming language barriers.

Without attention to customer service, long-term business growth is unlikely.

Airbnb offers nearly 50,000 listings in Japan. Foreigners using the service nearly tripled from 2015 to about 3.7 million last year. The Japan National Tourism Organization has reported that about 24 million visitors came to Japan in 2016. Airbnb users account for a sizable portion of visitors to Japan.

The Japanese government is working to pass legislation in the current Diet session to allow private-home rental practices across Japan, with some conditions.  

(Nikkei)

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