Airbnb says record bookings signal travel rebound

SAN FRANCISCO: Bookings on Airbnb hit a new high in this year’s first quarter, the home rental platform reported on Tuesday (May 3), in a fresh signal that travel demand stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic is being unleashed.

Despite the Omicron surge and a persistent level of infections, Airbnb bookings for lodging and travel “experiences” topped 102 million in the first three months of this year, setting a new quarterly record, the company said in an earnings release.

“Guests are booking more than ever before,” Airbnb told shareholders in a letter. “Looking ahead, we see strong sustained pent-up demand.”

The company’s stock price rose more than 3 per cent to US$150.50 in after-market trades following the release of the earnings figures.

Revenue in the first quarter was US$1.5 billion, up 70 per cent from the same period a year earlier, the company said, adding that its quarterly loss shrank to US$19 million from a loss of US$1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

The San Francisco-based company’s earnings reflect an ongoing recovery in the travel industry and show that Airbnb is gaining share in the market, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said in an investment note.

“Airbnb exceeded expectations on almost every line item, with strong bookings trends for the summer and balance of the year,” Sebastian told investors.

“Looking further ahead, travel recovery in urban areas, cross-border and (the Asia-Pacific region) should fuel additional bookings growth.”

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