Airbnb must adapt to changing consumer habits in a post-COVID-19 travel industry

Following the news that many travelers have had to cancel Airbnb reservations;

Rheanna Norris, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on how traveler priorities are likely to change when international borders are reopened:

“Traveler priorities and spending power will be changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to thrive, Airbnb must adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

“Consumers’ main focus when making future bookings will be flexibility. Confidence levels when booking a trip will be lower than ever, so cancellation policies will have to be enhanced to offer free cancellation or amendments. Airbnb’s host model creates complications that may cause it a disadvantage when competing with hotels. Communicating and implementing changes to seven million listings could be a costly, time-consuming exercise and appeasing hosts will be a challenge.

“COVID-19’s economic impact will lead to reduced disposable income and according to a recent GlobalData survey, 59% of respondents in the US said they are now operating on a tight budget.

“This could work in Airbnb’s favor, as a large proportion of travelers utilize the online platform as a cheaper alternative to hotels. Airbnb and its hosts must look to drive home this advantage and attract lower-budget travelers through effective marketing efforts and tailoring its website and resources to this audience. 

“Airbnb has the brand recognition and market power to be able to manage the change in traveler priorities post-COVID-19. Airbnb is well known in the industry with a rental network of over seven million listings in over 200,000 cities, and the brand’s equity will not diminish overnight.”

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