NEW YORK: Airbnb chief executive officer Brian Chesky on Thursday (Jan 14) predicted travel would permanently change due to the pandemic with people seeking out thousands of smaller cities and spending more time visiting friends and family.
Traditional tourism and sightseeing at top global destinations would be significantly reduced by travellers who will drive to smaller communities and fly less for business meetings.
The startup was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and its business dropped by 80 per cent in a little over eight weeks.
However, as lockdowns eased, more travellers opted to book homes instead of hotels, helping Airbnb post a surprise profit for the third quarter. The San Francisco-based firm gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.
The home rental firm went public in a blockbuster initial public offering in December, its shares more than doubling in their stock market debut. Shares of Airbnb rose as much as 10 per cent to a record high of US$187.42 on Thursday.
WILL NOT FACILITATE VIOLENCE
The rental platform has been canceling home-sharing reservations in the Washington D.C. area for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration's next Wednesday after law enforcement warned of a threat from armed militias.
Speaking during the Reuters Next conference, Chesky recalled the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and said that he did not want the platform facilitating people traveling to commit violence in communities.
Airbnb made the decision of after consulting local and federal officials and after a number of hosts worried about potential attacks sought to cancel bookings.
However, major hotel chains including Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Marriott International have said they planned to uphold existing reservations.