With the pandemic putting an abrupt halt to travel and tourism, short-term vacation rentals have seen a sharp decline in bookings. As a result, changes are afoot at Airbnb with a longer-term rental strategy now underway.
These changes come shortly after the company announced it had raised $1 billion in funds to be used towards three core products: hosts, long-term stays and Airbnb online experiences. As more Airbnb hosts are unable to fill units to vacationing travellers due to COVID-19, a series of new tools have been launched by the company to entice those seeking extended accommodations – including a new alert and on-boarding process to make their listings more widely available to long-term guests.
According to Airbnb, around 80 per cent of hosts now accept longer-term stays and about half of the company’s active listings now provide discounts for stays of one month or longer. It is now seeing more people, including students, doctors and nurses in residency, or those in long-term work assignment turning to Airbnb to find housing for stays of six- to nine-months.
In late March, Airbnb also announced a new global initiative to help connect those responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with safe and convenient places to stay while carrying out their critical work. According to a recent press release, the company’s goal is to help house 100,000 healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders around the world and will waive all fees for stays arranged through this initiative.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” said Airbnb’s Co-founder Joe Gebbia. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”