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Airbnb chief gives dire prediction for short lets market

The short lets market aimed at international travellers may be in for a difficult time – even the co-founder and chief executive of Airbnb says so.

Brian Chesky has told Yahoo Finance that “the world of travel as we knew it in January is never coming back… I feel very confident about that.”

Chesky claimed that within six weeks of the Coronavirus going global his business had lost some 80 per activities that it had spent 12 years building up: Airbnb was reportedly valued at $26 billion in March but has since had to abandon plans to float.

He forecasts that holidays are going to shift long term, with people less enthusiastic about flying and more resigned to staycations rather than international breaks.

“People are saying they do want to get out of the house, regardless what country they’re in but they aren’t right now super comfortable getting on aeroplanes. They want to get in cars, and they want to travel not more than 300 miles away or 200 miles, a tank of gas” he tells Yahoo.

“A whole bunch of people who thought they had to get on an aeroplane and go to a city and stay in a central district realize, well, there are 400 national parks in the United States, and I live near one and maybe I should go see a natural park” he adds.

Many letting agencies which had diversified into Airbnb and other short lets management have now returned to concentrate solely on long-term bookings, while the fledgling trade group for short lets in the UK – the Short Term Accommodation Association – has given dire warnings about the financial health of the support industry that has grown up around Airbnb and similar services.

Globally Airbnb has already slashed its workforce by about 25 per cent and says it expects 2020 full-year revenue to be about half of last year’s.

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