With wind beneath its wings, home-sharing platform Airbnb saw key metrics rebound over the summer, making Q3 2021 “our best quarter ever,” as Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said on an earnings call with analysts Thursday (Nov. 4), even surpassing Q3 2019 revenues in what market watchers see as a strong sign that travel’s recovery is rapidly gaining momentum.
Reporting Q3 revenue of $2.2 billion — 36% higher than Q3 2019 and beating Q3 2020 by close to 70% year-over-year — Chesky said Airbnb hit a milestone one billion cumulative guest stays over the summer, earning its hosts a record $12.8 billion in the quarter just ended.
Pointing to “continued strength in North American and EMEA and an acceleration in Latin America,” he added that “excluding [Asia-Pacific], our total global nights and experiences booked exceeded 2019 levels” as gross booking value of $11.9 billion “shot above 2019 levels by 23%” thanks in large part to resilience in average daily rates (ADR).
More earnings detail is contained in the company’s Shareholder Letter Q3 2021.
The strong showing reflects broader trends, as he said, “Something bigger than a travel rebound is happening. The world is undergoing a revolution in how we live and work. The pandemic has suddenly untethered tens of millions of people from the need to go into an office. Technologies like Zoom make it possible to work from home. Airbnb makes it possible to work for any home, and this newfound flexibility is bringing about a revolution in how we travel.”
Work From Home Changes Everything
As pandemic work from home (WFH) directives morph into corporate policy, Chesky said, “In recent months some of the world’s largest companies — Procter and Gamble, Amazon, Ford, Price Waterhouse Coopers — have announced increased flexibility for employees to work remotely, and we expect many more companies to follow their lead.”
Chesky said several trends are branching off the WFH effects to which he partly credited stellar Q3 financials. These include greater flexibility to travel mid-week, a fact that’s making “Mondays and Tuesdays…currently our highest growing days of the week to travel.”
This has caused Airbnb users to seek more options for places to stay and visit. “Over 100,000 cities have had least one booking on Airbnb, and that includes 6,000 towns and cities that received the first booking ever on Airbnb,” in Q3, he said.
Also, long-term stays of 28 days or more “remain our fastest growing category. People are traveling Airbnb for extended vacations, relocation temporary housing, student housing and many other reasons,” he said.
Demand Driving Supply in Home Sharing Sector
Saying that “demand is driving supply” at this point, Chesky spent a good portion of the Q3 earnings call discussing moves Airbnb is making to attract more hosts to the platform.
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Airbnb will be announcing the Airbnb 2021 Winter Release, with 50 platform and program “upgrades and innovations that will make it easier to host and support the changing needs of guests.” This follows the May release of 100 upgrades across the service.
“Our single priority in 2021 has been to prepare for the travel rebound,” Chesky said. “To do that, we’ve been perfecting the end-to-end experience of our core service. This includes educating the world about hosting, recruiting more hosts, simplifying the guest experience” and bringing on more “super hosts” to show new hosts the ropes of operating homes as Airbnb’s.
The effort to attract more hosts is central to the company’s 2022 plans. To that end, Airbnb launched a marketing campaign earlier this year to educate Airbnb guests on the possibilities of becoming hosts themselves.
He added that “we launched a completely redesigned host onboarding flow that makes it simpler for anyone to start hosting. Throughout the process potential hosts can now be paired with super hosts to answer their questions or concerns. We began ‘ask the super host’ in nine countries and we’ve since expanded the program to over 30 languages in 196 countries.”
Chesky also commented on the “I’m Flexible” feature added earlier in 2021, which he called “a whole new way to search on Airbnb when guests are flexible about where or when they’re traveling. Since launch, guests have used I’m Flexible more than 500 million times. Due to popularity of this feature, we’re soon making it even more flexible by expanding the date ranges feature as well as adding more categories.”
See also: Outdoorsy Considering IPO Later This Year