Airbnb CEO says travel is never going back to the way it was before the pandemic

  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a Thursday interview that travel will forever be changed by the pandemic.
  • The home-rental company was hit hard by the pandemic, with business dropping 80% in a little over eight weeks.
  • Airbnb went public in a blockbuster initial public offering in December, its shares more than doubling in their stock market debut.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

(Reuters) – Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky on Thursday predicted travel would permanently change due to the pandemic with people seeking out thousands of smaller cities and spending more time visiting friends and family.

Traditional tourism and sightseeing at top global destinations would be significantly reduced by travelers who will drive to smaller communities and fly less for business meetings.

The startup was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and its business dropped by 80% in a little over eight weeks.

However, as lockdowns eased, more travelers opted to book homes instead of hotels, helping Airbnb post a surprise profit for the third quarter. The San Francisco-based firm gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.

The home-rental firm went public in a blockbuster initial public offering in December, its shares more than doubling in their stock market debut. Shares of Airbnb rose as much as 10% to record high of $187.42 on Thursday.

Will not facilitate violence

The rental platform has been canceling home-sharing reservations in the Washington D.C. area for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration's next Wednesday after law enforcement warned of a threat from armed militias.

Speaking during the Reuters Next conference, Chesky recalled the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and said that he did not want the platform facilitating people traveling to commit violence in communities.

Airbnb made the decision of after consulting local and federal officials and after a number of hosts worried about potential attacks sought to cancel bookings.

However, major hotel chains including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc and Marriott International have said they planned to uphold existing reservations.

For more coverage from the Reuters Next conference please click here or http://www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next

To watch Reuters Next live, click here.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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