Can Airbnb be less of a real estate play and more of a facilitator of human connections? That is Brian Chesky's stated vision. But will that sales pitch sell with Wall Street?
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said his company is already adapting to what he believes will be a post-coronavirus era where mass tourism will be on the wane and “travel redistribution” will take hold.
Interviewed by Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali on his The Long View livestream Friday, Chesky said regular business travelers, who have been “tethered” to their domiciles and working from home, will want to travel even more but they will look to small cities and communities as their preferred leisure options. [See the interview embedded below.]
A whole new generation will look for multi-month stays so they can work for a San Francisco company, for example, but engage in extended stays in other cities, he said.
“I think this will be a huge part of Airbnb,” Chesky said, referring to multi-month or “indefinite stays,” with some people opting to avoid rental leases.
Stays of 30 days or more were already 15 percent of Airbnb’s business before the pandemic, Chesky said, and currently make up nearly half of its bookings.
In this sense, Airbnb will become less of a “travel” company because people will choose to stay in cities longer and to work remotely from communities far from their companies’ offices.
Didn’t want to be in the real estate industry
Chesky said when he and his two co-founders started Airbnb they didn’t intend for it to be a travel company, but to provide a cheap alternative to hotels.
The future for Airbnb, Chesky said several times, would be fostering an environment for “human connection” and to forge better relations with its own hosts.
“We didn’t start this company to get into the real estate industry,” Chesky said.
Chesky said the coronavirus crisis — as do many crises — helped to clarify things, including that the company had become distanced from hosts, and become too complex.
“Something about this crisis truly reminds you what is important,” Chesky said.
On the question of when would Airbnb go public, Chesky said: “There’s no update. We’ll be ready when the world’s ready.”
— Skift (@skift) April 24, 2020
Photo credit: Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO was interviewed by Skift Founder Rafat Ali in his The Long View podcast on April 24, 2020. Chesky said travel will be different and better when the pandemic is over. Skift