Recap of webinar hosted by The Information on April 15, 2020 with Airbnb insiders and travel experts, with some takeaways for hotels.
Like everyone struggling to understand what the future looks like following the pandemic, we tuned in for a webinar hosted by Cory Weinberg of The Information. The topic was Airbnb & Travel After the Pandemic.
The webinar featured Airbnb and travel experts including: Scott Shatford, Founder and CEO of AirDNA, a provider of short-term rental data and analytics; Kevin Kopelman, Managing Director and research analyst covering hotels and online travel at Cowen; Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV Capital, and an Airbnb investor.
The general consensus is that Airbnb is in a great position to recover from this recession because, unlike hotels, it’s a marketplace and doesn’t have huge asset expenses. As we are all too aware, hotel companies are being hit with a double whammy because revenues are down 85-90% and they’re burning a lot of cash quickly.
The speakers all agree that Airbnb will likely see the biggest recovery in larger homes where groups can congregate. Most people will be vacationing within driving distance of their homes and will choose to spend their time with friends and family, while airline recovery is going to be more challenged. Scott predicts that the market might come back to 2019 levels as soon as August 2020.
One interesting insight is that people are booking more average nights per stay with Airbnb than before COVID-19. The average had been 3 nights prior to the pandemic and now people are booking much longer stays. Hotels can leverage this insight to offer promotions for week-long stays or longer.
Scott predicts that people will be eager to get out of their homes and will want to take a vacation (I can validate that sentiment!). Rather than fly to destinations, they will take their airfare money and put it into a home rental by the lake or mountains. This prediction is backed by survey data that he shared: When consumers were asked where they want to go post pandemic, 70% of people chose single family homes outside of cities.
Kevin was slightly less optimistic about when demand will return. While he also predicts a strong bounceback, he cautioned that we first need to make a clean break from the virus so that travel restrictions can be lifted. He also reminded the audience that the pandemic has caused significant economic damage, wiped out business travel and left consumers with far less spending money. He said that even when the travel surge happens, prices will be weak to capture the booking. He doesn’t see hotel recovery happening until 2022.
So, what does this mean for hotels?
- Think about packages for weekly stays
- If you have suites or villas for families, make those a focus
- Create promotions for your guests within a 6 hour driving radius
- Tout cleanliness guidelines since Airbnbs doesn’t have guidelines or policies in place today
The more we hear from experts and the more we dig into the data, it’s clear that people will be eager to travel again when restrictions lift. There is going to be lots of competition to capture these travelers so stay top of mind by engaging with guests today on social media and through email and be ready to market to your local guests as soon as people can leave their homes. And, like you, we can’t wait for things to start moving again!