COVID-19

Airbnb gets a boost from close-to-home getaways

Erika Beras Jul 15, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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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
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

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The latest: President Donald Trump signed an executive action directing $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people? It’s still unclear. Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100. But states’ budgets are stretched thin as it is.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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