Home-sharing startup Airbnb said it has confidentially filed with US regulators for an initial public offering but the number of shares and price has yet to be determined. The move comes as the travel industry suffers an economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic amid slowdowns in tourism.
Bookings have begun to “bounce back” and unveiled an initiative to promote short-range travel as pandemic restrictions ease. “It does look like people are a bit more comfortable going someplace and staying in a person’s house instead of a hotel,” said technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. Chances that the US stock market could crater later this year due to unemployment and ebbing stimulus money was likely a factor in the decision by Airbnb to go public at a time when the travel industry is struggling, he added.
Pick one: cabin edition.
Which one are you road-tripping to post-quarantine? pic.twitter.com/BEWfrjCfGi
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) May 20, 2020
“Airbnb is moving now because the market is hot, people are staying at Airbnb properties, and the market could go south,” Enderle said. “Eventually, the market will reflect the unemployment. So better to IPO before things get really bad and they have to wait a few years.”
The San Francisco-based company has been working with local authorities, charities and tourist agencies to entice potential visitors and stimulate economic activity. “The travel industry, including Airbnb has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will continue to be tremendous uncertainty,” the company said in a June blog post. “But, our booking data shows that travel is beginning to bounce back.”
Starting today, @Airbnb is launching Online Experiences, moving many of its in-person classes online over Zoom so that people in quarantine across the world can “travel from home” and connect with the world outside their doors… https://t.co/yeR9h5nbuO #MeetHappy
— Zoom (@zoom_us) April 9, 2020
Earlier this year, Airbnb slashed a quarter of its workforce, which is around 1,900 people, as the coronavirus pandemic crushed the travel industry. The cuts were needed for the company to survive until people started traveling again, said co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky in a blog post at the time.
The company recently announced new cleaning “protocols” to reassure travelers. Testing in Britain, France and Spain began weeks ago on a ban on people younger than 25 with fewer than three positive ratings from renting entire homes close to where they live to avoid them being used for big parties. It followed similar measures in the United States and Canada, and a strengthening of an Airbnb ban on gatherings that violate public health mandates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The cracking down has been seen as necessary and started last year due to rowdy parties causing problems with neighbours. The coronavirus pandemic had also ramped up concern about events where social distancing measures are flouted.
Source: AFP Relax News