Domestic travel gives Airbnb a boost

Rentals within 200 miles account for more than half of the site’s bookings

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (Getty, iStock)
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (Getty, iStock)

The travel industry is beginning to show signs of life again, with city residents heading to nearby vacation rentals in droves.

Airbnb saw more nights booked for its U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than it did during the same period a year ago, according to Bloomberg. Similarly, Germany, Portugal, South Korea and New Zealand are also seeing a surge in demand for domestic bookings. Booking Holdings and Vrbo are seeing increases in domestic vacation-rental reservations as well.

The domestic vacations seem to be largely replacing international ones, with weeklong trips to Paris being replaced with a month in the Catskills. The percentage of bookings on Airbnb within 200 miles has risen from a third in February to more than half in May.

But the rebound is coming from an extremely low base, as the travel industry was decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Airbnb cut a quarter of its workforce and expects 2020 revenue to be half of 2019 revenue, while Booking Holdings had to apply for government aid.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Still, Airbnb has more listings now than it did before the pandemic, and the comeback has helped keep alive its plans for an initial public offering this year. “We’re not ruling out going public this year, and we’re not committing to it,” CEO Brian Chesky told Bloomberg.

Airbnb and Vbro have tried to help salvage the summer season by making cancellations more flexible and enforcing new cleaning standards, but Chesky said he is not ready to make any grand pronouncements about the future of the industry yet.

“The long-term question is what does it look like in a year or five years,” he told Bloomberg, “and that’s really anyone’s guess.” [Bloomberg— Eddie Small