Thursday 13 May 2021 9:41 pm

Vaccinations drive Airbnb bookings up 52 per cent

Airbnb beat Wall Street’s expectations for first-quarter gross bookings and revenue on Thursday, as speedy Covid-19 vaccinations and easing restrictions encouraged more people to check into its vacation rentals.

Gross bookings jumped 52 per cent to $10.29bn in the quarter, easily beating analysts’ estimates of $6.93bn.

“For guests aged 60 and above in the U.S., who were amongst the first groups to benefit from vaccine rollouts, searches on our platform for summer travel increased by more than 60 per cent between February and March 2021,” Airbnb said.

The San Francisco-based company expects second-quarter revenue to be similar to 2019 levels but added it was too early to predict if the recovery would continue at the same pace in the second half of 2021.

Airbnb has weathered the pandemic better than rivals as people turned to its offering of larger spaces and locations away from major cities in the era of social distancing.

The company recorded a surge in bookings in Britain after the government laid down plans in February to exit lockdown, while the easing of travel restrictions in France earlier this month also lifted demand.

The momentum could accelerate in June as the European Union’s executive commission has recommended easing travel restrictions next month to let foreign travelers from more countries enter the bloc.

Airbnb’s revenue rose 5.4 per cent to $886.9m in the first quarter ended March 31, exceeding estimates of $714.4m, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation narrowed to $59m, from $334m a year earlier, largely due to cost cuts.

Sooho Choi, Global Head of Travel & Hospitality at technology consultancy Publicis Sapient, said: “The strength of Airbnb’s Q1 results are indicative of the travel rebound and is a positive sign for the entire travel industry. 

“Despite displaying resilience, the Covid crisis naturally impacted Airbnb’s financials this quarter – lockdowns in many countries, particularly in Europe, hampered overall revenue. However, resilience in North America where domestic travel resumed, bumped up bookings and aided in results, with revenue up 5% YoY – testament to Airbnb’s adaptable model and strength of brand.”