In the face of steep inflation and major air travel disruptions, consumers still booked more trips and longer stays with Airbnb in the second quarter even as they cut back on nonessential items, proving that pent-up travel demand is real, and even a priority for many consumers.
It seems the working vacation concept that Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky positioned as a pandemic-era trend starting last year is taking off despite weakening consumer buying power.
On an earnings call with analysts, Chesky said consumers are “not just traveling Airbnb, they’re now living on Airbnb. We saw long-term stays of 28 days or more remain our fastest-growing category by trip nights compared to 2019. The long-term stays have increased nearly 25% from a year ago. And actually, long-term stays have increased almost 90% since Q2 2019.”
Airbnb said bookings rose to their highest quarterly number ever, up 24% over the pre-pandemic second quarter in 2019, despite rising inflation and broader economic uncertainty worldwide.
Read more: Airbnb Q2: Record Bookings, Month-Long Stays See Fastest Growth
Chief Financial Officer Dave Stephenson told analysts that “there’s just so much pent-up demand for travel and just so much demand for travel in general that people would like to spend money on the experience of travel and getting out of their home more than on things that we’re just continuing to see that great strength in our business.”
It’s an expression of hybrid work, including working vacations, of the kind Chesky continues to talk about.
“The most talented people aren’t in San Francisco anymore… and they’re not in New York,” he told CNBC in May. “The most talented people are everywhere now — and if I need engineers, designers, product managers or marketers, they’re getting so distributed that if you limit your talent pool to community radius, you’re probably at a disadvantage.”
With Airbnb revenue up 58% year over year in Q2 to $2.1 billion, its strongest second quarter ever, and many market watchers pointing to working vacations as a key contributor, it’s part of a trend that PYMNTS data has been tracking all year as consumer priorities shifted.
Further bearing out the working vacation trend is that active listings for non-urban destinations rose nearly 50% compared to Q2 2019, the company reported, adding that “as demand returns to cities, we are also seeing growth in total urban supply.”
Connected Economy on the Road
According to the PYMNTS “ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: Working in the Whenever, Wherever Office,” based on a survey of roughly 3,200 consumers, “millennials are the most likely of all generations to be part of the remote or hybrid workforce, with 64% now splitting their work time between the office and elsewhere. This compares to 61% of bridge millennials and 52% of Gen Z who do the same.”
Get the study: Working in the Whenever, Wherever Office
The study also found that 44% of consumers work part of the time “neither at the office nor at home, but other locations, whether they be cafés, restaurants, the homes of friends or relatives or while traveling on trains, planes, buses and cars. The ConnectedEconomy has transformed much of the physical world into a potential office space.”
In a subsequent survey of close to 2,700 consumers, PYMNTS found that as travel increases, so does spending in adjacent areas — an important dynamic in a down economy.
The May edition of PYMNTS’ ConnectedEconomy Monthly Report series noted that five of the 11 activities we track within the “Move” pillar of the framework involve vacation planning, including booking lodgings online, using airline and car rental apps, and more.
See the study: Brick-and-Mortar Economy Goes Digital
“Digital engagement in these activities saw a massive increase last month, especially in using sites and apps to reserve hotels,” the report stated. “The share of consumers going online to book hotels increased by 23%, strongly indicating that consumers are taking the opportunity to travel.”
In its second-quarter letter to shareholders, Airbnb confirmed the trend, saying: “Guests continue to return to cities and cross borders. Gross nights booked to high-density urban areas in Q2 2022 accelerated from Q1 2022, and once again exceeded pre-pandemic levels.”
Also, gross nights booked for cross-border travel doubled compared to Q2 2021, “demonstrating the tremendous recovery compared to last year,” the company said.