Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told Axios that he sees global travel never fully recovering—instead, travel will focus on domestic trips. He also adds that a few months can already pose decades’ worth of transformation.
Compared to the Great Recession of 2008, Chesky describes travel as having more dramatically changed today. With people spending less time on air and more time on land, international travel is still a distant future. Even if travelers do have the chance to get back on planes, the CEO expects a fairly permanent shift to local trips, a major redistribution of where travelers go.
“People are not getting on airplanes, they’re not crossing borders, they’re not meaningfully traveling to cities, they’re not traveling for business. They’re getting in cars. They’re traveling to communities that are 200 miles away or less. These are usually very small communities. They’re staying in homes and they’re staying longer,” he explains.
Chesky envisions a potential growth in small community travels, even for national parks. Intimate local trips will be the focal point of tourism even after travel restrictions are lifted. Despite tremendous uncertainty, Airbnb showed subtle signs of recovery as more bookings were listed under them for day trips in the US. The San Francisco-based company partnered with local tourism organizations such as the US National Park Foundation and the French Association of Rural Mayors to promote nearby getaways and domestic travels, hopefully stirring economic activity.
After the travel industry took a major blow from the coronavirus pandemic, Airbnb had to retrench a quarter of its workforce (around 1,900 of its employees) last month to cut costs.