Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has predicted that travel will permanently change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with people seeking out thousands of smaller cities and spending more time visiting friends and family.
Traditional tourism and sightseeing at top global destinations will be significantly reduced by travellers who will drive to smaller communities and fly less for business meetings, he said.
Travellers are "yearning for what was taken away from them," Chesky said at the Reuters Next conference in an interview with Reuters global technology editor Jonathan Weber. "They're not yearning to see Times Square. What they are yearning to do is to see their friends and their families they have not seen in a long time."
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
Airbnb was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and its business dropped by 80% in a little over eight weeks.
However, as lockdowns eased, more travellers opted to book homes instead of hotels, helping Airbnb to post a surprise profit for the third quarter. The San Francisco-based firm gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.
The home rental firm went public in a blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) in December, with its shares more than doubling in their stock market debut.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.