Sep 20, 2021 - Economy

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to herald "travel revolution"

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TSA checkpoint travel numbers
Data: TSA. Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky will argue this week that the world is undergoing a "travel revolution," in which some parts of the industry stay shrunk but the sector ultimately comes back "bigger than ever."

Why it matters: Chesky, who faced the abyss when the world shut down last year, foresees a significant shift in how people move around, with more intentional gatherings of family, friends and colleagues — even if routine business travel is never what it once was.

Driving the news: Chesky will unveil his "revolution" this week at the Skift Global Forum, a gathering of travel-industry leaders (in-person, of course — vaccinated-only, near JFK airport). Among Chesky's top points:

  • Travel will be back bigger than ever — just not like it was in 2019. People have been isolated on a scale and for a duration never seen before, and want to come together.
  • The flexibility created by remote work is driving this shift. Zoom is the latest to disrupt travel, following revolutions by steam engines, mass-produced cars and commercial air travel.

A factor helping the travel business, Chesky will argue:

  • Extended weekends are on the rise. Airbnb says bookings for three- and four- day weekends with families are up 70% from Q2 2019 to Q2 2021.
  • Long-term stays (28+ nights) were Airbnb's fastest-growing trip-length category in Q2 data. Airbnb says its surveys show people plan to continue extended getaways.

The big picture: Domestic flight demand remains far off pre-pandemic levels.

  • Online bookings last month reached $4 billion, a decline of 35% from August 2019 and 24% from this July.
  • Year-to-date through August, total domestic bookings represent $38 billion, down 30% from the same period in 2019.
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