Airbnb's CEO compared the coronavirus crisis to Hurricane Maria, saying its business will bounce back, just as it did after the storm that ravaged Puerto Rico
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Monday promised hosts that the company's business will bounce back following the coronavirus pandemic, saying that it has weathered crises before. He pointed to what happened after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico; thousands more property managers are offering accommodations via Airbnb now than they were before. The comparison could be considered to be in poor taste; Puerto Rico as a whole is still recovering from the storm, which killed nearly 3,000 people there. Chesky's message was part of a broader announcement in which Airbnb is setting aside some $260 million to help out hosts. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus-related hit to the travel industry may be unprecedented and unexpected, but Airbnb has survived economic crises before and has always come back stronger, company CEO Brian Chesky said Monday on a video message live streamed to the company's property-manager partners. Airbnb was launched during the Great Recession, Chesky noted. More recently, the company's business in Puerto Rico — and that of its hosts — was hammered by 2017's Hurricane Maria. But it both cases, the travel industry startup's business thrived as things recovered, Chesky said. Before Hurricane Maria, some 7,700 property managers were listing spaces on Airbnb in Puerto Rico, said Chesky. Now, there are some 12,000. "We are going to weather this storm," Chesky said in his video message. "We are going to get through this together. There's going to be a huge amount of business on the other side." Nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes on record in the US, and the island is still recovering from the damage it wrought. Today, the whole world is coping with the coronavirus, not just one island. The epidemic is wreaking havoc on the travel industry well beyond Airbnb. With governments around the country and world encouraging or even ordering citizens to stay at home, many have aborted their travel plans. Airlines have cancelled numerous flights and hotel and cruise industry companies are ailing. 'This storm is going to end' It's unclear how long the epidemic — or its impact on the economy — will last. Just on Monday, counties in the San Francisco Bay Area — Airbnb's home base — announced they would extend their shelter-in-place orders for several more weeks, until at least May 1. Meanwhile, Virginia and Maryland became the latest states to issue such orders to their residents. And some epidemiologists are forecasting the the peak of the pandemic could be weeks or even months away. But Chesky vowed that Airbnb will come back stronger then ever once life returns to normal. People have an innate desire to travel and following this crisis, they're going to want to satisfy that need more than ever, he said. "This storm — no matter how bad it is, no matter how long it goes on — this storm is going to end," Chesky said. During his message, Chesky announced Airbnb's plans to aid hosts during the crisis. The company set aside $250 million to reimburse property managers for 25% of the revenue they lost due to bookings cancelled as a result of the pandemic. It set aside another $10 million for so-called Superhosts — highly rated managers of popular properties — to help them pay their rent or mortgages. The moves come after widespread criticism of Airbnb by hosts. The company announced earlier this month that it would allow travelers to cancel their reservations and get a full refund, no questions asked, starting on March 14 due to the epidemic. The move, which Airbnb made without consulting hosts, overrode property managers own cancellation policies. In his message, Chesky praised the company's property manager partners and acknowledge that Airbnb needed to do a better job communicating with them. Despite what the company did with earlier reservations, Airbnb will stand by and enforce hosts cancellation policies for any bookings made after March 14, he said. "The last few weeks have been a bit of a wakeup call for us. We know we need to be closer to you," Chesky said. "We're going to build things in partnership with you. We really are partners — or at least I want us to be." Got a tip about Airbnb? Contact Troy Wolverton via email at email@example.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.
Read more about Airbnb: Airbnb hosts are furious that the company is sticking them with the cost of letting guests cancel due to the coronavirus crisis Airbnb is asking Congress to help out its hosts, after it just hit their revenue by overriding their cancellations policies due to the coronavirus crisis These numbers show how Airbnb's business could take a devastating double hit because of coronavirus cancellations The coronavirus crisis has exposed a crucial weakness in Airbnb's business model and it's likely to haunt the $31 billion company's IPO plans SEE ALSO: Airbnb is letting guests around the world cancel their reservations for a full refund and no cancellation fees, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt travel plans Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Watch Elon Musk unveil his latest plan for conquering Mars
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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the US is its strongest market right now, as the pandemic drives many consumers out of cities to set up temporary rural homes
Summary List Placement Airbnb's business was upturned by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in...Summary List Placement Airbnb's business was upturned by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in this country and around the world. Given that the epidemic is still raging in the US — while being largely checked in most other developed countries — you might expect that the online travel company's home market would be among its worst-performing ones right now. But the opposite is true, according to CEO Brian Chesky. The US is actually its strongest market right now, Chesky told Business Insider in an interview Thursday. "The US is very surprising in its strength," he said. The company is also seeing strong demand for its services in Northern Europe, particularly in France and the UK, Chesky said. The reason each of those areas is doing well is that they have huge domestic travel markets, he said. Due to the lingering epidemic, international travel remains in a rut around the globe. But in-country travel has been surging in some countries, particularly those in which Airbnb is seeing strength. People in those countries aren't traveling for business and aren't going to conferences, Chesky said. But they have been traveling for leisure. And, especially in the US, but elsewhere too, many people have been trying to get away from the stress and pandemic in big cities and setting up temporary homes in more rural areas, he said. "There's a shift from traveling to living," Chesky said. "While fewer people are traveling, we're picking up a lot of ground [from] longer-term stays." Globally, Airbnb's coronavirus rebound has been uneven The rebound in the US market comes despite the fact that it remains one of the epicenters of the epidemic with far more cumulative cases and deaths than any other country. On a global basis, the rebound Airbnb has seen has been uneven. While Northern Europe and North America are strong, Southern Europe and South America are not, he said. Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, isn't doing as well as Europe or North America. Brazil, which has had the second-largest coronavirus outbreak after the US, is starting to recover. If you divide the world into four quadrants, "the West is doing better than the East. The Northern Hemisphere is doing better than the Southern Hemisphere," Chesky said. Airbnb's business was hammered earlier this year when governments around the world started shutting down their economies and limiting the movement of their citizens to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Chesky suggested to Business Insider that his company's revenue fell 80% in eight weeks, due to the crisis. The company has since seen a rebound as the US and other countries have reopened their economies and lifted restrictions on movement. Chesky has felt confident enough about Airbnb's business to move forward with a planned public offering, confidentially filing its offering paperwork last month. Got a tip about Airbnb? Contact Troy Wolverton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop. Read more about Airbnb: Airbnb's Brian Chesky says what it was like to watch his company's revenue plunge 80% in eight weeks and how he decided to go public anyway in exclusive interview Airbnb's growth momentum was destroyed by the coronavirus crisis. These 2 charts show just how bad it was — and how quickly it could bounce back. Airbnb, last valued at $18 billion, has confidentially filed for an IPO Airbnb's revenue reportedly plunged 67% in the second quarter as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on its business Airbnb reportedly plans to confidentially file for an IPO later this month SEE ALSO: Airbnb unfroze its IPO plans thanks to bookings rebound, but the $18 billion startup has built its comeback on very thin ice Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says treehouse and Airstream rentals are booming — and that it's a sign we're entering a more 'intimate' era of travel
The pandemic has not been kind to Airbnb. In May, the company laid off 25% of...The pandemic has not been kind to Airbnb. In May, the company laid off 25% of its global staff to keep business afloat. In a July 22 webcast with Reuters, CEO Brian Chesky said that despite setbacks, rentals outside of cities, particularly unique stays like treehouses and Airstreams, are "booming." Chesky attributed the recent surge in bookings to people wanting to get out of their houses and reconnect in a safe way. He says he's hopeful for a "new golden age" post-pandemic, predicting the industry will move away from mass tourism. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Airbnb has had a trying past few months. In May, CEO Brian Chesky predicted that Airbnb's yearly revenue will be half that of 2019 due to the pandemic's impact on travel. The homesharing company also laid off 25% of its global staff. Despite having to make difficult decisions, Chesky told Reuters' Global Editor Rob Cox and Columnist Gina Chon in a July 22 webcast that he is "optimistic" about recent numbers. Earlier in July, Airbnb saw one million room nights booked in a single day for the first time since March. Chesky attributed this uptick in bookings people wanting to get out of their houses. "I think what this is starting to tell us is that people want to connect, but they want to do so safely," he said. Travelers are heading to suburbs and rural areas Two thirds of those one million bookings were located outside of cities, and 50% were located within 300 miles from guests' homes, according to an Airbnb news release. In lieu of touring major global cities and tourist attractions in double-decker buses, travelers are now heading to small towns where they can enjoy socially distanced activities, Chesky said. "Paris" is out, and "Petaluma and Pittsburgh" are in, he told Reuters. The pandemic has accelerated a new era of unique stays and 'private' travel In particular, Airbnb's unique stays like treehouses and Airstreams are "booming," according to Chesky. Not only are people booking rentals outside of cities, but they're also looking for "something more private, intimate, smaller, unique, special — something that could be a destination in and of itself," he said. "Unlike a hotel where you're in a public space, Airbnb is a little more private," Chesky added. "So I think people feel like maybe for the first time in a long time, Airbnb is not the riskier option." In June, Airbnb rolled out new cleaning protocols for hosts to assuage traveler and host concerns about COVID-19 safety while traveling. Guests can now look for an "Enhanced Clean" certification on listings to see whether a host has committed to following the new protocols, such as wearing head-to-toe personal protective equipment while disinfecting rooms. Though no one knows when travel will fully recover, Chesky is hopeful that the industry is heading into "a new golden age of travel." That future, he thinks, does not include double-decker buses filled with camera-toting tourists. "Travel will not be massive, but small and intimate," Chesky predicted.SEE ALSO: Airbnb reveals the 10 most popular destinations in the US right now — here's where they are and where to stay in each NOW READ: Airbnb announced vigorous new cleaning protocols for hosts in response to COVID-19. Here's how to know if the listing you're considering is participating — or not. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told employees that the company is resuming preparations for an IPO, The...Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told employees that the company is resuming preparations for an IPO, The New York Times first reported Wednesday and Business Insider confirmed. The company has said that it intends to go public sometime this year, but Bloomberg reported that the timeline could be pushed to 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Airbnb, which was reportedly losing money even before the pandemic, saw business plummet as travel ground to a halt. But the company is also under pressure to go public from employees whose stock options could start expiring soon. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Despite taking a major hit to its business during the pandemic, Airbnb is once again gearing up to go public, The New York Times first reported Wednesday and Business Insider confirmed. "This is something I never would have imagined telling you," CEO Brian Chesky told employees, according to The Times. Airbnb has said since last fall that it intends to go public sometime "during 2020," but Bloomberg reported in March that the company might push its target date back to next year due to coronavirus fears and massive economic fallout. At the time, Airbnb's urban bookings had dropped as much as 96% in some cities since the virus halted global travel, and the Financial Times reported in early April that Airbnb had slashed its internal valuation to $26 billion — a 16% drop from the company's previous valuation of $31 billion, according to PitchBook. In May, the company cut its workforce by 25% — 1,900 jobs — in an attempt to cut costs. Airbnb has shown some small signs of a rebound since then, reporting in June that bookings had surged as some travel resumed, but still has a long road to recovery — let alone profitability, with The Wall Street Journal reporting in April that Airbnb lost $674 million in 2019. Airbnb is also under pressure from employees, with The New York Times reporting last year that some could see stock options expire starting this November if the company doesn't go public by then. But with COVID-19 cases surging again in many states, the realities of the pandemic could still hold Airbnb back. "We're not committing to going public this year, but we're not ruling it out, either," Chesky told employees following the meeting in an email seen by Business Insider. "When the market is ready, we will be ready, because Airbnb was down but we were not out."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America