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Airbnb bookings jump 52% as vaccinations spur vacation rental demand

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Airbnb Inc saw gross bookings jump 52 per cent as speedy Covid-19 vaccinations and easing restrictions encouraged more people to check into its vacation rentals.

Gross bookings were worth $10.29 billion in the quarter, easily beating analysts’ estimates of $6.93 billion.

“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, adding that the return of urban and cross-border travel is likely to underpin growth over the coming quarters.

Airbnb is also set to benefit from demand for longer stays and a shift to traveling in groups by business travelers, Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said on a post-earnings call.

The company 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.

It 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.

Airbnb, however, said it was too early to predict if the recovery momentum would continue at the same pace in the second half of 2021.

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

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

Its average daily rate rose 25 per cent from the prior quarter to $160, reflecting an increase in the amount customers are spending for homes and experiences. Airbnb pointed to strength in bookings in North America, along with complete homes and locations outside cities, all of which tend to bring higher rates. The company said 24 per cent of nights booked came from stays of at least 28 days, compared with 14 per cent in 2019.

 

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