Airbnb’s bookings rose 13% as US lockdown eases, beating hotels

DESPITE the bleak outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic causing countless job losses, the US vacation rental firm Airbnb managed to outperform hotel operators that were mostly reliant on business travellers.

Airbnb on the other hand benefitted from the cold climate as travellers flock to a large share of its ‘sun, ski and suburban’ rental homes.

According to Airbnb, leisure travellers stepped out to nearby locations that could be accessed by a car and are within 50 miles of their homes, increasing the daily booking rates up at 13%.

“Nights booked prior to cancellations in North America were close to the levels reached in the same quarter of 2019,” the company said.

Airbnb expects wider vaccine rollouts in 2021 to help a significant rebound in travel. It said both nights booked as well as gross bookings in the current quarter are expected to be higher than a year ago, but lower than the same period in 2019.

In December last year, the company’s gross bookings fell 31% to US$5.9 bil, but that still managed to beat market expectations of US$5.17 bil, according to Refinitiv’s IBES data.

Nights and experiences booked at Airbnb dropped 39% to 46.3 million units, but was better than the Wall Street’s estimate of a 47% drop.

Business in Europe was the most affected in the quarter due to travel curbs as a result of surging coronavirus infections.

Airbnb’s overall revenue fell 22% to US$859 mil, while adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization shrank to about US$21 mil from US$276.4 mil, a year earlier, helped by cost cuts.

Analysts on average expected Airbnb to post revenue of US$747.4 mil and adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of US$122 mil. – Feb 26, 2021

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