Travel is picking up again, and so is Airbnb Inc.’s business. After a big drop in revenue, job cuts and other cost-saving measures in 2020, the company saw a 5% revenue gain during the first quarter.
Airbnb in May released a set of new features and policies to accommodate the post-pandemic traveler—one who travels domestically (because many borders remain closed), stays in each rental longer, and shows new interest in midsize cities such as Dallas or San Diego. The new features include the ability to show available dates outside the original search parameters and to show different kinds of lodging (for example, treehouses).
The company, which is facing competition from other travel portals, is also working to attract new hosts with a number of changes, such as more support agents, a more streamlined process to list a property and artificial intelligence tools that recommend better ways to describe properties.
The Wall Street Journal spoke to Dave Stephenson, Airbnb’s chief financial officer, about the company’s plans and challenges. Edited excerpts follow.
WSJ:People are eager to travel again as vaccination rates rise and restrictions ease. What do your bookings tell you about where people are headed?