COVID-19

Airbnb gets a boost from close-to-home getaways

Erika Beras Jul 15, 2020
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The company said most of its bookings have been in remote locations with guests only coming from a couple hundred miles away. Martib Bureau/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Airbnb gets a boost from close-to-home getaways

Erika Beras Jul 15, 2020
Heard on:
The company said most of its bookings have been in remote locations with guests only coming from a couple hundred miles away. Martib Bureau/AFP via Getty Images
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Airbnb said that this month, for the first time since stay-at-home orders started in March, guests booked 1 million nights of accommodations in a single day. The company has had a rough year — it’s been racking up losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it laid off nearly 2,000 employees. Are things turning around for the company?

Spring is usually pretty busy for Charles Chapman’s rental house on the Lake Erie shore in Ashtabula, Ohio. But not this year. In March, Airbnb bookings dried up completely. Then, in June, Chapman said “we went back to being, like, 100% booked for the summer.”

More of his visitors than usual are coming from the nearby Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas. 

“I’m not having anybody really coming from far, which usually I’ll get a couple people,” he said.

Airbnb said what Chapman is seeing is pretty typical right now. Recent bookings tend to be in remote areas and guests tend to come from within a couple hundred miles. 

Hospitality analyst Andrea Stokes with J.D. Power said surveys have found that travelers are “way more comfortable taking road trips over flying somewhere, and then trips closer to home were, you know, going to be a little more popular than longer-ride trips.” 

By avoiding hotels, it’s easier to steer clear of potential infection. 

Crystal Watson, who works on pandemic preparedness at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it’s healthy to want to hit the road and see new things. 

“We’ve all been under this social distancing regime for the last several months, and I know everyone is tired of it,” Watson said.

Bookings at remote locations are a boon to those hosts, but they may not do much for the company, said Dan Thomas, an analyst with Third Bridge. 

“It’s large cities that are driving a lot of the traffic on the platform, a lot of the bookings on the platform,” Thomas said.

And it’s large cities where Airbnb makes most of its money. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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