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Airbnb CEO identifies 5 trends that are unlikely to reverse

·West Coast Correspondent
·2-min read
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Prior to the pandemic, Airbnb's core business was driven by vacationers going abroad for a weeklong vacation. Adventurers sought out locations in urban centers, accessible to a city's top attractions. Today, the home rental platform is seeing the most growth in trips less than 50 miles away from home, with a quarter of all stays lasting 28 days or more. 

The traveler, it turns out, is highly adaptable and Airbnb (ABNB), being a tech platform relying on four million hosts across 100,000 cities, was able to accommodate changing behavior amid stay at home orders and mandatory quarantines.

Despite the surge in demand to explore remote, rural destinations, Airbnb is seeing a slow return to cities. Forty percent of all nights booked in the first quarter were in high-density urban areas.

While hotel chains like Marriott (MAR) are betting on the leisure traveler returning to popular tourist destinations, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky believes the hype around crowded, congested cities may be a relic of the pre-pandemic past. 

"This is a long term trend — a trend toward bigger homes, a trend toward longer stays, a trend toward going from a few cities to everywhere, a trend from business travel to leisure travel and a trend from mass travel to meaningful travel. I think all these things...it's hard for me to fathom those reversing," he said during an interview with Yahoo Finance Presents.

BARGTEHEIDE, GERMANY - MAY 04: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT)  In this photo illustration, a Airbnb App in the IOS App Store on May 04, 2021 in Bargteheide, Germany. (Photo by Katja Knupper/Die Fotowerft/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
BARGTEHEIDE, GERMANY - MAY 04: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) In this photo illustration, a Airbnb App in the IOS App Store on May 04, 2021 in Bargteheide, Germany. (Photo by Katja Knupper/Die Fotowerft/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Vaccine rollouts across wealthy nations and the potential for more cross-border travel is an imminent reality, but if Airbnb's average daily rate (ADR) is any indication, the near-term forecast looks like the elements of first quarter will endure.

Airbnb's ADR grew 35% to $160 in the first quarter, reflecting the relative strength of North America, which tends to have higher listing prices.

"The United States is [recovering] disproportionately faster than other countries. And people are traveling to non-urban areas more than urban areas. As countries lift restrictions, as people visit cities, as people cross borders, then the ADR should come down a little bit, because we're going to have a shift back to Europe, back to Latin America, back to Asia, back to cities. And in cities, people typically book studio apartments, one or two bedroom apartments, rather than four or five bedroom homes and vacation rentals," said Chesky.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm and on LinkedIn.

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