Airbnb’s Catherine Powell on the trend of long-term vacation rentals: Travel Weekly

Catherine Powell joined Airbnb in January 2020 after serving as Director of Disney Theme Parks for 15 years. Initially, she took the reins of the company’s nascent “experiences” department. Then Covid-19 hit and 80% of Airbnb’s business evaporated. Soon after, as the company refocused on its core product, Powell shifted its focus to leading platform host initiatives, hosting countless listening sessions to get the pressing issues under control. This year alone, the company has rolled out more than 150 initiatives, including a new suite of tools for hosts that includes WiFi speed checking, accessibility initiatives, and a more robust support network. She recently spoke with Travel Weekly’s hotel editor, Tovin Lapan.

Catherine Powell

Q: What trends are you seeing in how travelers are using Airbnb?

A: We are seeing this travel revolution where people can truly live anywhere. They are detached from their home, their place of life and their place of work.

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen is long-term stays. 20% of our booked nights in Q3 are from long-term stays, which we defined as stays longer than 29 days. This is an increase of 14% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

We are also seeing that families are now more flexible about their travels. The fastest growing booking days for families are Mondays and Tuesdays. And we find that companies are more flexible in terms of the presence of workers in the office. So maybe you can work remotely for two, maybe three weeks, and then you add your vacation and people can spend five or six weeks somewhere completely different.

Q: How do you help hosts navigate these changing trends?

A: I’m very focused on having our hosts ready to succeed, and success means they have the tools to meet guest needs. So one of the things we did was introduce an insights dashboard for our guests to help them understand how travel behaviors were changing. They could see that more customers are traveling with pets and they could adapt if they wanted to accommodate pets. They saw that customers were increasingly working from home, so it became more important to offer WiFi and promote it.

Q: How does Airbnb help hosts and guests make more informed decisions about sustainable travel?

A: It’s something we focus on a lot. We have a hosting advisory board of 18 hosts and one of them is a host from the UK, Anna, and she is very focused on sustainability and best practices. She sets up workshops, trainings and other types of learning sessions with hosts so they can learn more about ways to be green.

From a guest perspective, we look at ways guests can make better choices when it comes to sustainable stays. We have, for example, houses that are marked as ecohomes on the platform. They’re one of the most sought after home types during the pandemic, and we have many, many more eco-homes coming to the platform. We also just introduced the off-grid category, which is another way to let customers know where they can find homes that have a lower carbon footprint. This is something we continue to be very focused on and hear a lot about in the host community.

Q: What lessons from your time at Disney have served you the most in your role at Airbnb?

A: What I did working in the parks with the Disney cast members was all about connecting with the guests and creating that magical, memorable moment, and that was something that was absolutely transferable to my role. . Now at Airbnb, I work closely with hosts and allow them to create that magical bond with our guests. Connection is at the heart of Airbnb’s mission, and it’s something that defines the Disney brand.

Comments are closed.