Airbnb sees booking rise

Airbnb For Work screengrabs

Airbnb has seen a 20% increase in bookings on the year, according to analysis from AirDNA.

The data company also reported that the platform had lost 8% of hosts.

Scott Shatford, founder & CEO, AirDNA, said: “We always knew that vacation rentals could really flourish in particular environments - that could be an economic environment where people can’t afford hotels or are looking for additional income. The public was quick to catch on to the fact that vacation rentals are the perfect pandemic vacation because they’re just more isolated, there’s more space, there’s no interaction with people at the front desk or other guests.”

Airbnb CEO & founder Brian Chesky told CNBC: “People are saying they want to get out of the house. Although our business has not recovered, I’ll be really clear, something remarkable happened. At the end of May to early June, we have the same number of bookings as the year before, without any marketing.” He maintained that the platform had the same number of hosts.

The company’s own data for 4th July bookings showed that family travel was on the rise, with nights booked that include at least one child or infant up more than 55% year-over-year. It added: “Travellers are also looking to keep their trips easy on the wallet, with 20% of searches made in June for the following month falling in the $50 to $100 per night price band.  Although affordability is front of mind for guests, they are not losing sight of having fun. As the ultimate symbol of an enjoyable and relaxing getaway, pools are the top searched amenity for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, making up 23% of Airbnb amenity searches.

“According to guests, pets are undeniably considered family, too. The ‘allows pets’ filter climbed to a close second at 22% of amenity searches for the Fourth of July weekend, while WiFi (13%), kitchens (9%) and AC (8%) also ranked in the top five.”

Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism analyst at GlobalData said: “One of the first forms of tourism that has returned is close proximity domestic travel – or staycations. Airbnb’s nimble business model has allowed it to react quickly to this sudden change in traveller demand and it has reaped the rewards. There were more nights booked for travel to Airbnb listings in the US between May 17 and June 6 than there were during the same time period a year earlier. The ability of the platform to adapt in real time to macro-economic factors such as COVID-19 is a key differentiator.

“Potential concerns regarding hygiene and sanitation in Airbnb properties do not seem to be as problematic as once thought. The fact that guests actually have more control over cleanliness may now put the company at an advantage over hotels - many guests may prefer to clean to their own standards once they arrive at their accommodation.

“The proactive attitude shown by the company is also evident internally. Like many other travel companies, Airbnb has had to streamline its business to optimise efficiency due to impacts created by COVID-19. Laying off around a quarter of its workforce has allowed Airbnb to pursue a more efficient cost structure by ending more costly ventures in order to focus on its core operations.

“Despite these positive signals, any IPO or direct listing should not be a rushed decision. Future risks such as a second spike in global COVID-19 infections as well as an increasing amount of cities clamping down on short-term rental regulations imply that Airbnb’s road to recovery may not be entirely smooth.”