4 things Airbnb is doing ahead of a return to travel

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  • Airbnb’s CEO said the firm’s “single priority” in 2021 is to prepare for a travel rebound.
  • The exec explained how Airbnb is gearing up for it, including catering to greater flexibility.
  • Chesky said guests won’t be picky about where and when they travel since many can work remotely.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Airbnb reported its fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, and the company said it’s gearing up for a wave of pent-up demand for travel.

On the company’s earnings call, CEO Brian Chesky said “there will be a significant travel rebound.” He listed a series of steps that Airbnb is taking to as it’s the company’s “single priority” to gear up for the return to travel.

Here are the four things Chesky said Airbnb is doing to “perfect the entire end-to-end experience.”

1. Educate people on why ‘being hosted is a better way to travel’

“We’re going to educate the world about what makes Airbnb different: hosting,” Chesky said. “Through our marketing and communications, we will educate guests that being hosted is a better way to travel.”

The CEO said the company uses photos of real guests and their experiences to demonstrate what the “experience of being hosted is like, and I think it speaks directly to the need for connection that people all over the world are feeling after nearly one year of isolation.”

2. Recruit more hosts and set them up for success

The company also plans to expand its education around becoming a host with Airbnb as well as simplify the onboarding process.

“Even though the brand of Airbnb as mainstream, the idea of hosting is not yet,” Chesky said on the call. 

The average host on Airbnb makes under $10,000 a year, Chesky said, and he added that people are more interested in joining the company as a host “than ever before.”

3. Simplify the guest experience and support more flexible travel patterns

Chesky said the company plans to improve search functionality to make it easy for guests to find the perfect listing.

“More people are working from home, and that means more flexibility about when and where they travel because of it,” Chesky said on the call.

Chesky said customers are less concerned about planning a trip around a specific date range since they can work out of a would-be Airbnb property just as they would at home. That dynamic could even allow customers to book an Airbnb for a month’s time if they choose.

Chesky has made this prediction before, suggesting that so-called digital nomads could be emerging since they’re not required to be tethered to a physical location.

4. Continually strive to deliver world-class service 

Chesky said Airbnb is “actively fixing product issues” and scaling operations to meet demand.

Airbnb’s Thursday quarterly earnings report is the company’s first since its stunning IPO in December when its shares soared as high as $165 from an expected $68, leaving Chesky speechless.

The pandemic has slammed the travel industry, although Airbnb has weathered the storm better than its rivals. The company said on Thursday that the return to travel is somewhat pegged to the health crisis as vaccines continue to roll out.

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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