The CEO of Airbnb says that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic ‘travel as we knew it is over – and it’s never coming back’.
Brian Chesky, who co-founded the holiday rental site in 2008, believes that there will be a ‘redistribution of where people travel… instead of to only a few cities, to thousands of local communities’.
He also revealed how deeply the pandemic affected his business, that ‘we spent 12 years building Airbnb’s business and lost almost all of it in a matter of four to six weeks’.
Mr Chesky made the remarks during an interview with Deirdre Bosa on U.S news channel CNBC.
He was upbeat about the market – ‘it’s resilient’ – and pointed out that ‘Airbnb has more hosts now than before the start of the Covid-19 crisis’ and had the same volume of bookings in the U.S in May and early June as the year before ‘without any marketing’.
But he stressed that while travel will come back, ‘it’s going to take a lot longer than what we thought’ and that it is ‘going to be different’.
He said: ‘People don’t want to get on airplanes… they don’t want to go to cities, they don’t want to cross borders.
‘What they are willing to do is get in a car and drive a couple of hundred miles to a small community where they are willing to stay in a house.
‘People are yearning for a connection. They want to be connected to each other, to communities, they want to get outside.’
Earlier this month Airbnb unveiled a list of the 10 most wish-listed UK properties since lockdown began on March 23.
The ranking includes a forest lodge in Stoke-on-Trent, an oak cabin in Hemel Hempstead and a windmill in Kent.
The list, says Airbnb, reveals that Britons are particularly keen on stays in idyllic surrounds once travel is back on the agenda, with 70 per cent of the list made up of lodges, cabins and glamping options.