Airbnb says record bookings signal rebound in travel

Airbnb plans to announce major changes to its app as the home-sharing platform hopes to benefit from a global travel rebound

SAN FRANCISCO: Bookings on Airbnb hit a new high in the first quarter of this year, the home rental platform reported Tuesday, in a fresh signal that travel demand stifled by the Covid-19 pandemic is running wild.

Despite Omicron’s surge and a persistent level of infections, Airbnb bookings for accommodation and travel “experiences” exceeded 102 million in the first three months of this year, setting a new quarterly record, a the company said in an earnings release.

“Guests are booking more than ever before,” Airbnb told shareholders in a letter.

“Looking forward, we are seeing sustained strong pent-up demand.”

The company’s stock price rose more than 3% to $150.50 after the earnings figures were released.

First-quarter revenue was $1.5 billion, up 70% from the same period a year earlier, the company said, adding that its quarterly loss had risen to $19 million compared to a loss of $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

The San Francisco-based company’s earnings reflect a continued recovery in the travel industry and show Airbnb is gaining market share, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said in an investment note.

“Airbnb exceeded expectations on almost every item, with strong booking trends for the summer and the rest of the year,” Sebastian told investors.

“Longer term, the recovery of travel in urban, cross-border and (Asia-Pacific) areas should fuel further growth in bookings.”

The company said trends of people booking stays away from urban areas and staying relatively close to home continue, but customers are returning to cities and taking cross-border trips.

The strong earnings come a week before a May 11 event in which Chief Executive Brian Chesky is due to announce what the company considers the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade.

“We’re introducing a new Airbnb for a new world of travel,” the company said in its earnings letter, adding that “with an all-new way to search, customers will be able to discover millions of unique homes they’ve never seen before. ‘never thought of researching’. .”

The booking platform has found traction around the world, but is battling various regulatory challenges in multiple jurisdictions.

In March, the European Union’s highest court ruled that the property rental platform must share booking data with regional tax authorities in Brussels.

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