Airbnb benefits from ‘travel recovery’ as bookings and revenue grow


Airbnb Inc updates

Tourists from places with higher vaccination rates were “driving the travel recovery”, Airbnb said on Thursday, as it reported strong revenue growth for the quarter.

At the same time, the short-term rental provider warned the “global spread of Covid variants” and inconsistent local regulations could adversely affect the number of bookings for later in the year, putting investors on alert for the possibility of a bookings pullback.

“We do not yet know how willing people will be to travel in the fall as compared to summer,” Airbnb said.

The stock fell by about 3 per cent in immediate after-hours trading.

In the April-June period, cross-border travel gained momentum compared to earlier in the year, with travellers benefiting from relaxed restrictions and showing more willingness to venture longer distances.

Destinations with increased vaccine availability in particular had benefited from increased bookings, the company said in a shareholder letter.

Airbnb earnings at a glance

Actual vs estimates

Gross booking volume: $13.4bn vs $11.6bn

Revenue: $1.34bn vs $1.26bn

Nights and experiences booked: 83.1m vs 79.2m

Ebitda: $217m vs $52m

Net loss: -$68m vs -$260m

Estimates provided by FactSet and S&P Capital IQ

Revenue in the second quarter of $1.34bn was almost four times higher than in the same period in 2020, and also up 10 per cent on 2019. Wall Street had expected $1.26bn, according to estimates provided by FactSet.

In its earnings reports, Airbnb records revenues in the period in which a stay takes place but logs “nights and experiences booked” at the time the reservation is made — a strong indicator of future revenues, barring any cancellations.

Total nights and experiences booked in the second quarter were up almost 200 per cent on 2020 to 83.1m, higher than the 79.2m analysts had expected. Experiences is Airbnb’s add-on product offering things to do, such as cooking lessons or tours.

This will contribute to what Airbnb expects will be its “strongest quarterly revenue on record” in the current quarter, finishing “well above” what it saw in the pre-pandemic third quarter of 2019. The company recently had its “biggest” single night of bookings.

“Last Saturday night, more than 4m guests from around the world were staying in an Airbnb,” said Brian Chesky, the company’s co-founder and chief executive. “That is more people than the entire population of Los Angeles.”

Looking further ahead, it warned investors that it faced renewed uncertainty heading towards the end of the year.

“Vaccination progress, containment of new variants, and travel restrictions outside the US will all continue to be key factors,” the company in a shareholder letter.

“As a result, while we expect ‘nights and experiences booked’ in Q3 2021 to significantly outperform Q3 2020, we expect ‘nights and experiences booked’ to come down from Q2 and remain below Q3 2019 levels.”