Will Airbnb guests want to stay in chain hotels instead after COVID-19?
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Recently, the U.S. State Department issued a “Level 4” travel advisory for all international travel. As of April 5, seven of the 48 contiguous states, including Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Nevada, plus Alaska and Hawaii, require almost all incoming travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days. Nobody travels.
Hotel indicators record unprecedented lows
The travel and hospitality industry has been hit the hardest, with mass layoffs and record-low key performance indicators (KPIs). According to STR’s lodging report for the week ending on March 28, the industry’s KPIs hit “unprecedented lows.” STR is the leading data analytics provider for the lodging industry. For the week of March 22 to 28:
- Occupancy: 22.6%, a minus 67.5% change from the same period of last year (March 24 to 30, 2019)
- Average daily rate (ADR): $79.92, a minus 39.4 percent change
- Revenue per available room (RevPAR): $18.05, a minus 80.3% change
- The industry is expected to see the worst occupancy in 2020 on record
- Occupancy: 19.6%, a minus 74.6% change
- ADR: $89.71, a minus 43.9% change
- RevPAR: $17.60, a minus 85.7% change.
Airbnb, too, is not doing well
Airbnb just lowered its internal valuation to $26 billion in April, down from $31 billion in the company’s previous valuation. According to AirDNA.co, a tech firm that collects and provides short-term residential rental data:
- The global Airbnb supply remained relatively little change.
- The weekly Airbnb revenue for New York City dropped from $12.5 million in the week of Jan. 5 to $6 million in the week of March 15, a minus 52% change.
- The weekly revenue for San Francisco dropped from $4.4 million in the week of Jan. 5 to $1.8 million in the week of March 15, a minus 59% change.
Comparing to the AirDNA.co data for Beijing, a place with a lockdown order earlier, bookings dropped from 40,508 in the week of January 5 to 1,655 in the week of March 1. That was a 96% drop.
Looking at the yearly trend (March 2020 vs. March 2019), another AirDNA.co report reveals some new trends:
- Rural areas reported the most significant yearly gains in the month at $1,320 million, a $280 increase from the previous year.
- Suburban areas saw growth from $294 million to $345 million.
- On the contrary, the revenue in urban markets dropped from $706 million to $631 million.
It is important to note that such a yearly trend was released on March 23, 2020. It is likely that the coronavirus outbreak has stronger negative impacts on urban markets, in which more confirmed infected cases were reported in large metropolitan areas. It is also plausible that people might choose to stay outside of urban areas before the stay-at-home order takes effect.
Will today’s Airbnb guests want to stay in chain hotels instead when the pandemic is over?
It will probably take a long time before the industry bounce back to the 2019 peak even after the pandemic is over. When people start traveling again, however, will chain hotels win some Airbnb guests back?
Referring to the pros of cons of staying in a hotel vs. an Airbnb facility, hotels appear to be a winner. For example,
- Hygiene and cleanliness will become even more important to travelers. Chain hotels can provide consistent service determined by the brand standards.
- Social distancing may have a prolonged effect on people. That will lower some travelers’ desire to interact with local hosts, which is a unique feature offered by Airbnb.
- With lower ADR, hotels become more appealing to those Airbnb travelers who are looking for cheaper options.
- It is not as easy to change or cancel an Airbnb booking as a hotel reservation.
- In case of accidents (e.g., feeling ill) or damage, it is easier to claim a loss from an insurance company if the case is taken place in a hotel.
- Some Airbnb hosts, especially the multi-unit hosts, might find it difficult to make the mortgage payments for more than one rental unit during the global economic downturn.
- Airbnb did a poor job in handling the cancellation fees between hosts and travelers; it might take a long time for Airbnb to fix its relationship with the hosts.
Let’s hope the worst of the pandemic will end soon. Then, everything will go back to normal.
When people begin traveling again, will chain hotels become a more attractive option for the travelers who usually stay at Airbnb?
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