Airbnb expects first-quarter bookings to significantly exceed pre-pandemic levels

In Latin America, booking during 2021's Q4 was 22% higher than Q4 2019 with continued resilience in certain countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, where both domestic and inbound cross-border travel continued to strengthen.

Photo: REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie/File Photo

Airbnb on Tuesday forecast better-than-expected first-quarter revenue after the short-term home rental company reported strong quarterly results on rising domestic travel and longer stays by guests at higher prices.

Airbnb expects current-quarter revenue between $1.41 billion and $1.48 billion, higher than analysts’ estimates of $1.24 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES.

While the San Francisco-based company was initially hit by the pandemic, its business rebounded quickly as people took trips closer to home where they stayed for longer to work remotely. The trend has since continued with “non-urban gross nights” booked up about 45% in the fourth quarter versus 2019.

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“Nearly half of our nights booked in Q4 were for stays of a week or longer. One in five nights booked were for stays of a month or longer,” Airbnb said.

Strong demand also helped push up prices charged by hosts, with average daily rates during the fourth quarter up 20% at $154. The company expects the higher rates to bolster first-quarter results.

Airbnb has also got a boost from pent-up travel demand, with the hospitality sector shrugging off a temporary impact from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Marriott International earlier on Tuesday reported results that beat Wall Street estimates and the hotel chain said travel recovery remained intact.

Airbnb, which is not particularly reliant on big cities to generate revenue, expects first-quarter bookings to significantly exceed pre-pandemic levels, leading to a record gross booking value.

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Guests aren’t just traveling on Airbnb—they’re living on Airbnb

“Nearly two years into the pandemic, it’s now clear that we are undergoing the biggest change to travel since the advent of commercial flying. Remote work has untethered many people from the need to be in an office every day. As a result, people are spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time. For the first time ever, millions of people can now live anywhere,” says the beginning of the company’s letter to its shareholders.

The fourth quarter was helped by strong bookings in North and Latin America versus 2019, but Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions were a drag, according to the company.

In Latin America, nights and experiences booked were 22% higher than Q4 2019 with continued resilience in certain countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, where both domestic and inbound cross-border travel continued to strengthen.

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Airbnb reported revenue of $1.53 billion in the fourth quarter, and $6 billion revenue for the full year of 2021 – 25% higher than in 2019.

For 2022, one of the three main focus of Airbnb will be “living on Airbnb” and developing new solutions and experiences around that. “The impact of Omicron has quickly dissipated and guests are confidently booking for the summer travel season early in the year. In the U.S. and Europe in particular, we are seeing lead-time for bookings made in Q1 2022 return to
pre-pandemic levels. We are also seeing strong demand coming out of Latin America, while growth in APAC has not yet recovered to 2019 level”, said Airbnb about what 2022 looks like so far.

“As such, for the first time since the pandemic began, we expect Q1 2022 nights and experiences booked to significantly exceed Q1 2019 levels, which we believe will result in our strongest quarterly nights and experiences booked on record,” said the company.

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