Number of rooms: 9
First listed on Airbnb: 2016
Key benefit: Occupancy rate 50% higher than local average
Other results: Most guests book through Airbnb
Eric Sabot realized a dream in late 2016 when he opened Le Bamboo Bali, an eco-friendly resort with nine bamboo huts, an infinity pool, and vegetarian restaurant. But he didn’t know how to attract customers who would embrace the unique experience he was offering.
Eric spent his youth traveling, studying business and living in nine different countries. But he wasn’t sure where he wanted to end up until he visited Bali. He fell in love with the island, sold the Belgian waffle export business he’d started while living in Taiwan, and started planning his resort.
Eric designed the place in his imagination and spent three years building it, with the help of a local contractor.
As he was getting ready to open, Eric befriended another local who was listing properties on Airbnb. When she explained how it worked, Eric saw Airbnb’s potential to help him reach a large number of people interested in an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Listing on the site would mean he could spend less of his time promoting the property, freeing him up to concentrate on creating a memorable stay for his guests.
“The people on Airbnb don’t want to go to this classic place where everything looks the same,” Eric says. “They’re looking for that new experience. And that’s what I give them.”
Airbnb’s adventurous users flocked to his property immediately and now most of his guests come from the site. While the average occupancy rate in Bali is about 65%, Eric says his occupancy rate is around 90% to 95%, a significant portion of which he attributes to Airbnb.
Le Bamboo Bali’s guests tend to be young couples who are looking for an alternative to the party scene that’s the hallmark of other resorts on the island. They embrace his property’s quirks, like the outdoor bathrooms, the roosters on the nearby farm who often crow early in the morning, and the lack of air conditioning in half of the huts as Eric tries to maintain his promise of environmental sustainability.
“I want to transform people’s way of thinking about life through tourism, and Airbnb allows me to do that.”
Eric Sabot, Le Bamboo Bali
In large part, it works because Eric is up front in his listing about all that the Le Bamboo Bali experience will entail.
“We don’t allow any plastic on my property,” he says. “And I’ve been a vegetarian all my life, so the restaurant reflects that. And the guests we get on Airbnb are very laid-back and respectful of all that.”
Eric’s success has allowed him to expand. He’s building a beach-front property at the site where his old house burned down. He’ll soon list several units that he says are “Instagrammable,” including a “Titanic Room” where the ocean waves will crash right up against the bedroom window.
He’s also building a three-unit “treehouse” resort in Sri Lanka, which will open to Airbnb guests next year. Both of those, he says, are geared toward the kinds of Airbnb customers who made Le Bamboo Bali a success, and who are seeking a unique vacation property.
Eric isn’t motivated by money as much as expanding his vision. Airbnb, he says has has helped him find people who embrace that vision, while affording him the freedom to experiment.
“I want to transform people’s way of thinking about life through tourism,” Eric says. “And Airbnb allows me to do that.”