Airbnb is banking on a post-pandemic travel boom
04/26/2020|10:01:23 PM|Bloomberg

Brian Chesky started Airbnb in 2008 when the world was in the middle of the last global cataclysm. To homeowners struggling through the U.S. foreclosure crisis, Airbnb offered a way to help cover the next mortgage payment. To would-be travelers who couldn’t afford fancy hotels, it played up the character of the rentals its cash-strapped “hosts” were offering. 

Twelve years later, now Airbnb is under pressure. Expenses had already been growing before the crisis, exceeding $5 billion in 2019. And that was before the global lockdown. 

Unfortunately, no one knows how long the crisis will last or how it will change consumers’ behavior. As the world puts on surgical masks and latex gloves, the corporate sterility of a Courtyard by Marriott or Hilton Garden Inn suddenly seems a lot more appealing than somebody else’s bed. Perhaps, despite Chesky’s upbeat outlook, Airbnb’s moment has ended.

The biggest risk to the company, and the toughest to plan for, will be the pandemic’s effect on people’s psyches. Even at its best, travel is inherently a little bit scary.

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