Recent reports emerged that Airbnb’s stays in urban areas have dropped up to 50%, also suggesting that many hosts will likely look elsewhere to get more bookings. But is Airbnb to blame? These articles gloss over the obvious fact: COVID-19 has changed the way we travel, maybe permanently.
Whatever your opinions of Airbnb and their policies, the substantial decrease in urban bookings, is not an Airbnb problem, it’s not even a vacation rental problem — it’s a direct result of shifting travel perceptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus has led to a fundamental drop in demand for urban trips, for three painfully obvious reasons. First, business travel is nonexistent, most large corporations putting in place bans on non-essential travel. Second, after months of being cooped up in their own homes or apartments, nobody wants to visit urban areas – they want to escape from urbanity. And finally third, many attractions are either limited or closed (Italy just closed all museums, for example). This really varies country-by-country and even city-by-city, but with a global footprint, and a strong-hold in urban areas, Airbnb has been particularly impacted.
How many articles about surges in urban areas do you think it takes to scare people off? The US just hit a daily record in new cases. While some are still risking it, most are looking to avoid large groups of people and inside activities where infection risk is higher.
So what does this mean for you as a host? We often encourage hosts to diversify their business away from a dependency on Airbnb — getting more direct bookings, increasing repeat trips from loyal customers, and finding higher-end clientele on platforms like Plum Guide will all help increase revenue and control over their businesses during the pandemic. These are all good reasons to diversify, but if you’re moving off Airbnb with the expectation that those urban visitors are shopping somewhere else, it’s sure to lead to disappointment.
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