Inside Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky’s “Travel Revolution”

Data: TSA. Graphic: Jared Whalen / Axios

Airbnb CEO Brian chesky will argue this week that the world is undergoing a “travel revolution”, in which parts of the industry remain small but the sector is finally coming back “bigger than ever”.

Why is this important: Chesky, who faced the abyss when the world came to a standstill last year, foresees a significant change in the way people move, with more intentional gatherings of family, friends and colleagues – although routine business travel is never what it used to be.

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Driving the news: Chesky will unveil his “revolution” this week at World Skift Forum, a gathering of travel industry leaders (in person, of course – only vaccinated, near JFK Airport). Among Chesky’s strengths:

  • The trips will be back bigger than ever – just not like in 2019. People have been isolated on a scale and for a length of time never seen before, and want to reunite.

  • The flexibility created by working remotely is the driving force behind this change. Zoom is the latest to disrupt travel, following the revolutions of steam engines, production cars and commercial air travel.

A factor helping the travel company, Chesky will argue:

  • Extended weekends are on the rise. Airbnb reports that bookings for three- and four-day weekends with families increased by 70% between Q2 2019 and Q2 2021.

  • Long term stays (28+ nights) was Airbnb’s fastest growing travel time category in T2 data. Airbnb says its polls show people plan to continue with their extended getaways.

The big picture: Demand for domestic flights remains far from pre-pandemic levels.

  • Online reservations last month hit $ 4 billion, down 35% from August 2019 and 24% from July.

  • From the beginning of the year until August, total domestic bookings represent $ 38 billion, down 30% from the same period in 2019.

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