The CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky painted a grim picture of global travel in an interview with Axios, a news portal, on Sunday.
Travel Will Never Go Back To Normal
Airing his views on travel as it was before the pandemic, Chesky said, “I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-COVID; it just won't.” He added, “there are sometimes months when decades of transformation happen.”
No To Planes But Yes To Cars
Chesky talked about trends happening at Airbnb and revealed that “people are not getting on airlines, they’re not crossing borders, they're not meaningfully traveling to cities, they're not traveling for business.” He said instead they are “getting in cars” and traveling to communities 200 miles away or less. The Airbnb chief executive thinks that national parks would gain in popularity as “most people haven't gone to them.”
Business Travel Will Hurt
Chesky thinks that business and convention travel will not recover for some time as people can conduct business online. Remarking on Zoom Video Communications Inc’s (NASDAQ:ZM) platform, on which he gave the interview, he said, “[People] don't need to get on an airplane to have a meeting. I mean, I met you in an office, but now we're on Zoom.”
Airbnb Recovering But Not International Travel
The Airbnb CEO said that within countries they operate, the business has returned to previous levels, but the same was not true for international travel. The decline in international travel has a severe impact on the firm. Chesky remains hopeful that “people will, one day, get back on planes.” However, the nature of the travel may witness a tremendous change.
Airbnb laid off 25% of its workforce in May and raised $2 billion in both equity and debt to support its balance sheet.
The May layoffs followed 500 pink slips handed out two weeks prior to contract workers, many of which were minorities. The company is being accused of systematic discrimination, as allegedly, most of the contract workers it hires are predominantly people of color, while most full-time employees are mostly White.
Airbnb is enjoying a rebound due to pent-up demand. Chesky told Bloomberg he does not rule out going public in 2020, but he would not confirm it either.
Image via Airbnb Instagram