Before 2020, some people predicted that services like Airbnb would be a major disruptor in the lodging space. Opening up the inventory of individual renters to the masses would drive people from hotels to empty condos, guest houses, cabins, trailers, houseboats, and yurts.
While many travelers knew of Airbnb, many, ourselves included, would rather stay in a hotel room instead of someone’s empty vacation home.
Then COVID happened. Despite the clean promises that hotels made (and rarely kept), many were reluctant to stay in a building with guests and employees who had a different opinion about handwashing and masks than they did. For our first hotel stay after COVID began, we asked to stay on a ground floor instead of taking an elevator, which turned out to be correct once we learned that COVID is spread by aerosols and not droplets.
Our desire to stay away from other guests drove us to stay in our first Airbnb in September 2020. Then we stayed in our second that winter. This spring we stayed in our third Airbnb at Panama City Beach, and we just finished a week at an Airbnb in New Orleans.
Would we have been willing to stay at a hotel in New Orleans? Yes, we would have been fine with it. It’s more that now we’re willing to explore the options available and decide which is best for us for each trip.
We’ve already booked our next Airbnb stay for the north shore of Kauai for a few nights on our trip to Hawaii. If I was planning the trip two years ago, I would never have considered Airbnb or any other vacation rental service.
I’m using us as an example to show how the pandemic was the best thing that could have happened to Airbnb. It forced many customers who would have never utilized the service to give it a try. Are those people going to switch to booking all of their vacations on the service? Of course not. We’re still staying in hotels for 6 of the 9 days we’re in Hawaii. But we’ve moved 3 of our nights to Airbnb because it met our needs for that part of the trip.
We’re not the only ones because Airbnb just released the best earnings in the company’s history, making $834 million in the past 3 months, which is 4x more than the prior year. Profits for the company in Q3 surged 280% from the prior year.
In its third-quarter letter to shareholders, Airbnb said recovery trends continue to vary regionally, and by vaccination rates and travel restrictions. But the company added it is “uniquely positioned for this travel revolution.” In North America alone, nights and experiences booked were up 10% from the same quarter in 2019, Airbnb said
It’s still to be seen if Airbnb can continue to capture the business they acquired because of the pandemic but even if people stay 20% of the time instead of a hotel, that’s a massive bump in revenue and profits.
We’re not converts, but we’re willing to explore the options when an Airbnb makes more sense than a hotel room.
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