Airbnb CEO: “Travel will never, ever go back to the way it was”

Brian Chesky describes transformative impact of Covid-19 crisis

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The co-founder and chief executive of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, has emphasised the transformative impact of Covid-19 on the global travel industry.

In an interview with Axios, Chesky stated: “I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-Covid. It just won’t. There are sometimes months when decades of transformation happen.”

The novel coronavirus pandemic triggered a near-complete halt to the travel sector in the Spring of 2020, with national borders closed and internal movement severely restricted by widespread lockdown measures.

Airbnb has revolutionised holiday and short-term rentals in recent years by allowing individuals to rent out their own homes via its platform.

The plans of this disruptive firm have nonetheless been disrupted by the global health crisis. In the first quarter, Airbnb’s losses doubled year-on-year to $306m, (€270m, £247m). In early May the company laid off almost 25 per cent of its workforce and raised $2bn in equity and debt to bolster its balance sheet.

The early fall in bookings in Asia, where the virus originated, coincided with a ramping up of sales and marketing investment in preparation for the firm’s initial public offering. Plans for a listing were initially shelved at the height of the crisis, however, internal conversations have reportedly restarted.

Throughout his most recent interview, Chesky sought to emphasise Airbnb’s ability to cater to the shift in travel habits brought about by Covid-19. The 38 year old outlined these changes:

“I think you’re going to start to see travel becoming more intimate, more local, to smaller communities. People are not getting on airplanes, they’re not crossing borders, they’re not meaningfully traveling to cities, they’re not traveling for business… I think a lot of people are going to realize they don’t need to get on an airplane to have a meeting.”

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