Airbnb is taking action to avoid a shortage of rental properties as global travel rebounds, rolling out a suite of new tools, including AI-powered listing retention, to encourage more hosts to advertise their listings. properties on its site.
The short-term rental platform had around 4 million active hosts, he said on Monday, but the number of active listings on the site had remained stable over the past six months as many continued to live and work in properties they would otherwise have rented. .
Now, with the lockdowns easing and the vaccination of travelers, Airbnb faces a supply shortage in popular destinations as an influx of customers is likely to outnumber the hosts.
The company said it has taken steps to reduce the shortfall by streamlining the process of adding properties to its website. The new features allow hosts to use data from the public archives to automatically populate their listings with relevant information and assess prices appropriate for the region.
It also introduces AI tools like image recognition to automatically organize images in the way most likely to appeal to potential guests.
The move comes as analysts predict strong pent-up demand as the brakes on the pandemic loosen. On Monday, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky said the company expected the “biggest [travel] rebound in a century ”. In April, he told CNBC his business needed “millions more hosts.”
“I think it’s clear why [Airbnb] are focused on guest acquisition, ”said Steven Jankowski of AllTheRooms short-term rental analysts. “Even before Covid-19 hit, their host’s growth was slowing down, and it still looks pretty flat as the virus recedes and we reopen.”
Richard Clarke, travel analyst at Bernstein, said Airbnb also faces increased competition from online travel agencies such as Expedia and Booking.com and regional players and hotel companies that have invested in autonomous rentals during the coronavirus emergency.
He also noted that at the start of the pandemic, Airbnb forced hosts to reimburse guests affected by travel bans, causing “an element of concern” among owners. “People are more worried about risking cancellation than on other platforms because [Airbnb] has very flexible terms, ”Clarke said.
The average daily rate for an Airbnb stay in the first quarter of this year rose to $ 160, up 35% from the same period in 2020, according to company filings.
Since the start of the pandemic, many Airbnb bookings have migrated to destinations outside of dense urban areas, which were previously the backbone of its business. For example, the company said that so far in 2021, there has been more searches on Airbnb for places to stay in Cornwall than in London.
The nature of Airbnb stays had also changed, the company said. The number of longer stays – 28 days or more – had increased to 24% of all stays in the first quarter of this year, from 14% in 2019. As of April 30, 2021, Airbnb reported that 62% of all bookings in New York City was for long term stays.