Airbnb Pulled Off a Pandemic Turnaround For The Ages

Hotels2 years ago
Picture of an Airbnb

Sunbathing at a shepherd's hut… Welcome to the new age of great escapes. Airbnb has launched its biggest makeover in more than a decade, hoping you'll ditch your spa getaway for an off-the-grid excursion. The revamp includes the ability to search by category, from castles to tiny homes, no specific destination required. It also offers:

  • AirCover: Free travel protection with a 24/hr safety line, and a "get what you booked" guarantee. That is, travel insurance.
  • Split stays: A frictionless way to split longer trips between two homes, intended to appeal to digital nomads.
  • "OMG" getaways: A new category highlighting IG-worthy stays, like an alien-themed glamping site in Joshua Tree (FYI: it's booked solid till 2025).

Team meetings in Tahoe... Airbnb almost collapsed when Covid hit, cutting a quarter of its workforce as bookings fell off a cliff. But the rental giant staged a quick pivot — not to mention an IPO — recognizing that "old" travel was gone while creating experiences for remote safety-conscious customers. Bookings reached a record 102M last quarter, and nearly a quarter were long-term rentals. The company expects a strong summer travel season to keep fueling record sales.

  • Rental competition: Rival VRBO (owned by Expedia) also saw record bookings in the first quarter, and said half its customers were brand new.
  • 7 out of 10 Americans expect to travel this summer, though inflation could scramble some of those plans.



Flexibility and discoverability are the future of travel and Airbnb has always had a built-in advantage for that future. Its revamp is intended to merge the things that customers love about the service (think: the whimsy of finding and staying in a treehouse) with the comforts of the traditional hotel experience (think: getting exactly what you pay for, and a refund if you don't).

A-frame cabin in the woods