Airbnb said Thursday it has seen a “bounce” in bookings as the home-sharing platform unveiled an initiative to promote short-range travel as pandemic restrictions ease.
“The travel industry, including Airbnb has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will continue to be tremendous uncertainty,” the company said in a blog post.
“But, our booking data shows that travel is beginning to bounce back.”
Airbnb cited as a sign of recovery that there have been more nights booked for travel to Airbnb listings in the US between May 17 and June 6 than there were during the same time period a year earlier.
The home-sharing platform said it is riding a day-tripping trend with by partnering with local organisations and tourist bodies around the world including the US National Park Foundation and the French Association of Rural Mayors.
“Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, we are updating our app and homepage to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to book local travel, including at the last-minute,” the company said.
“This includes featuring local trip ideas and highlighting nearby getaways.”
Nearby half of the people in the US who took part in a survey commissioned by Airbnb indicated a preference to stay within a day’s drive of home once restrictions on movement are lifted.
More than half of Airbnb bookings in May were by people travelling no more than 320 kilometers (200 miles).
“The most common words in recent wish lists by Airbnb users were ‘beach’ and ‘summer’ 2020, so clearly people are eager to hit the road,” Airbnb said.
“Additionally, families are a greater share of Airbnb guests.”
Airbnb said it is working with local authorities, charities and tourist agencies to entice potential visitors and stimulate economic activity.
Airbnb last month slashed one fourth of its workforce — some 1,900 people — as the coronavirus pandemic crushed the travel industry.
The cuts were needed for the San Francisco-based company to survive until people start traveling anew, Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky said in a blog post at the time.
The company recently announced new cleaning “protocols” to reassure travelers.