The short-term rental market is seeing a rebound as city dwellers rush to escape the metropolis for some peace and quiet.
As such, sites like Airbnb are reporting a big jump in bookings lately. Airbnb for example, says it had more nights booked for U.S. listings in the weeks between May 17 and June 3 than it did in the same period one year ago, despite the ongoing restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus. And other sites, such as Booking.com, are also reporting an increase in vacation rentals.
“People, after having been stuck in their homes for a few months, do want to get out of their houses; that’s really, really clear,” Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO, told Bloomberg. “But they don’t necessarily want to get on an airplane and are not yet comfortable leaving their countries.”
The short-term rental sector was hit by an unprecedented number of cancellations since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the U.S. in March. Airbnb cut around a third of its staff in response, and has said it expects its revenue this year to be about half of what it was a year ago.
But it seems that the industry could rebound faster than many had expected. Airbnb now has more listings than it did before the pandemic began, with top destinations including Big Bear Lake in south California, Port Aransas in Texas and the Smoky Mountains. People have shifted from “airplane to car, big city to small location, hotel to home,” Chesky said.
Another short-term rental website, Vrbo, also reported a surge in bookings as tourist states such as Florida and Maine reopen for business.
“If you draw a 250-mile circle around any major metro - every place where you see water in there or mountains or national parks, the homes around it are what’s starting to get booked up,” Vrbo’s president Jeff Hurst told Bloomberg.