Airbnb Supports Local Economic Growth and Domestic Travel

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—Airbnb has entered into a series of partnerships with local communities from around the world to promote travel and economic growth. The company has also launched Go Near, a new initiative to support economic growth through local travel.

The announcement comes as travel takes its initial steps to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The travel industry, including Airbnb, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will continue to be tremendous uncertainty, but its booking data shows that travel is beginning to bounce back and new research has identified a series of trends that will shape travel in the weeks and months to come.

The company has partnered with destination marketing organizations to help them use the Airbnb platform to support economic development. The effort to make the Airbnb platform available as a tool for communities is informed by historic data on how it has supported economic empowerment, the company reports.

Airbnb’s efforts include:

Partnering with local communities to promote travel and economic growth
“We are working with governments and tourist agencies to help restore travel in a responsible way that benefits local citizens and small businesses economically,” said a company spokesperson. “Today, we are unveiling a new engagement program and announcing our work with local authorities, charitable partners and tourist bodies from around the world, including with the U.S. National Park Foundation on a national marketing campaign to connect Airbnb guests to lesser-known parks near their destinations.”

Through other partnerships, Airbnb will share travel data and insights, as well as allow the organizations to leverage its platform and channels, reaching hundreds of millions of people globally. Partners include:

  • National Park Foundation
  • Discover Puerto Rico
  • Visit Florida
  • Visit North Carolina
  • Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, UAE
  • VisitDenmark
  • French Association of Rural Mayors
  • Hadong-gun, South Korea
  • Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, China
  • Guilin Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television and Tourism, China
  • State of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Bermuda Tourism Authority
  • The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation
  • Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Wesgro, South Africa

Go Near
In a survey commissioned by Airbnb, nearly half of U.S. respondents said they would prefer to stay within a day’s drive for their first trip once lockdown restrictions lift. Since the pandemic began, the percentage of bookings made on Airbnb within 200 miles, a roundtrip travelers can generally complete on one tank of gas, has grown from one-third in February to over half in May.

“Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, we are updating our app and homepage to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to book local travel, including at the last-minute,” said the spokesperson. “This includes featuring local trip ideas and highlighting nearby getaways. We will also launch a summer email and social media campaign under the banner ‘Go Near’ to promote both nearby getaways and Airbnb’s recently launched Online Experiences.

Travel in the U.S. Has Begun to Recover
From May 17 to June 6, there have been more nights booked for travel to Airbnb listings in the U.S. than there were during the same time period last year. “Last weekend [June 5-7], for the first time since February, we saw year-over-year growth in gross booking value—not including cancellations or alterations)—for all Airbnb reservations made around the globe,” the spokesperson said.

The company reports Airbnb Superhosts have seen particular gains. From May 17 to June 6, 55% of the nights booked for travel to listings in the U.S. are with Superhosts, a 10-point increase from the same time period one year ago.

The top 10 trending destinations in the U.S. include:

  • Big Bear Lake, CA
  • Miramar Beach, FL
  • Panama City Beach, FL
  • Smoky Mountains
  • Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Destin, FL
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Branson, MO
  • Palm Springs Desert, CA
  • Port Aransas, TX

Other destinations that have seen strong growth in bookings include Idyllwild, CA; South Padre Island, TX; Northern Wisconsin; Fredericksburg, TX; Tulsa, OK; Northern Michigan; Lake Arrowhead, CA; and Burnet County, TX.

Summer travel is top of mind. The most common words in recent wish lists by Airbnb users are beach and summer 2020, so clearly people are eager to hit the road. Additionally, families are a greater share of Airbnb guests. From May 17 to June 6, nights booked for family travel in the U.S. (bookings that include at least one child or infant) are up more than 55% YOY from the same time period last year.