Airbnb will Survive COVID-19 with Big Changes

By Amy Farley | Fast Company (June 25, 2020)

There are three things that we think people will want. The first is to travel more locally. Second is affordable options. Third is that they want to prioritize cleanliness and private spaces. (Below is an excerpt from the original article; read more here.)

Joe Gebbia is the cofounder and chief product officer of Airbnb

We don’t think that people are going to get on planes for the foreseeable future. This heightened interest in domestic travel will be with us for many years to come. It goes beyond the [arrival of a] vaccine. People will have a different risk tolerance. In addition, given the economic climate we’re in, people are looking for affordable travel. And the most affordable travel is sometimes in your own backyard.

We looked at bookings from May 18 through May 31st, and there were more nights booked for domestic travel on Airbnb, globally, than there were in the same time period in 2019, which is kind of astounding. I think that for every week that goes by for people staying at home, it creates that much more demand for people to want to go somewhere and just get out of the house.

I don’t think business travel will be the same as it used to be. We’ve all experienced the fact that business can go on without being together in person. It’s no longer cumbersome or technically challenging to conduct business digitally. That’s where the puck was headed anyway. The pandemic kind of accelerated it.

But new things are popping up, like our online experiences. That’s something that we never would have imagined. Our Experiences head said, hey let’s bring these online. So we gave it a shot. And sure enough online experiences have exploded on Airbnb.

We have a host in Portugal who offers a sangria-making class online and has already had north of $100,000 in bookings in the first two months. I did an experiences with a Buddhist monk in Japan, who offers a meditation course. From my laptop in San Francisco, I learned how to meditate like a Japanese monk, with an actual monk. And it cost like 30 bucks. We’re trying to find more experiences to come online.

There’s also this idea of, not necessarily working from home, but what I would call working from anywhere. And it’s kind of cool to think about.