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.
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