Skift Take

Famous last words? Well, for travel industry’s sake coming from this brutal period, we hope not!

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in New York City on Tuesday for the launch of the company’s new curated search and homepage/app, their biggest product update in a while. Besides the very upbeat message with this radical change in its product and Chesky’s upbeat message all through last year on travel going through a revolution post pandemic, he also doesn’t see a recession coming to travel.

I asked him about the tech layoffs happening all around him, general fears of a recession coming and its effect on the travel sector just coming out of the biggest hit it ever had as a result of the pandemic. He thinks travel won’t go through the larger recession, the summer will be blockbuster and he thinks travel has become such an aspirational thing, there is so much pent-up demand that people really want to travel no matter what, even if their budgets get realigned. He said their new curated search makes it even more possible to cater to all price points and budgets.

I asked him about Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s memo earlier this week to his team about hiring freeze and whether he sees any hiring freeze coming for Airbnb anytime soon. He was vehement: no way. He said people don’t really realize how cost efficient Airbnb is with only about 5,000 employees for a company with billions in revenue — and $2.5 billion in free cash flow over the past 12 months. If anything it has seen a huge boost in interest in working for the company since it announced its new policy of going permanently remote earlier this month.

Famous last words? Well, for travel industry’s sake coming from this brutal period, we hope not!

Tags: airbnb, future of lodging, hiring freeze, online travel newsletter, recession, uber