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
With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.
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