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Airbnb postpones the diversification of its activities

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(New York) “I had tried to create too many things at the same time”, explained to AFP the boss of Airbnb, who wants to refocus the platform on its core business, housing rentals and guarantees for hosts, postponing possible diversification.

“We’re going into a recession, if we’re not there already,” said Brian Chesky, referring to soaring house prices and a slowing global economy.

“We have to help people earn money” by renting all or part of their accommodation, “because we know that for many, rent or mortgage is a major expense”, he elaborated.


PHOTO WALDO SWIEGERS, BLOOMBERG ARCHIVES

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

To encourage individuals to get started, Airbnb unveiled a new device on Wednesday that offers neophytes to be helped by a “superhost” who, for payment by the company, can provide advice and suggestions.

Another novelty intended to reassure future hosts, the platform now offers to verify the identity of all travelers who book in the 35 most active countries on Airbnb, and plans to extend it to all its markets next spring.

The group has also increased from 1 to 3 million dollars the damage covered by its AirCover insurance, and set up a system to identify reservations that could lead to parties, the pet peeve of the platform.

For example, a reservation for the next day, by young individuals, in the very city where they live, will thus alert Airbnb which can block it to prevent a possible party.

“We must be affordable” in terms of fares, also insisted Brian Chesky, to allow consumers to travel despite a deteriorating economic situation.

At the beginning of November, the San Francisco group announced the launch, in December, of an option which allows a host to display the total price of the rental, all costs included.

Airbnb will also offer hosts, in early 2023, tools to better calibrate their rates and facilitate discounts.

Rental real estate in focus

Shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the group to lay off a quarter of its workforce in 2020, Airbnb had to review its priorities.

“We had to get back to our main activity,” admitted the boss and co-founder of this platform, the name of which has now become commonplace.

However, Brian Chesky sees Airbnb diversifying in the long term. In five or ten years, “hopefully we’ll be doing a lot more than just hosting travelers,” he says.

The entrepreneur intends in particular to relaunch “experiences”, these activities offered to travelers in their place of stay, in addition to their accommodation.

“I think it could become a big business”, enthuses the leader, “but it will take longer than I thought. […] The pandemic has completely changed our trajectory and we have changed our priorities. »

It also turns out, he says, “it is more difficult to match supply and demand” for these “experiences” than for housing.

The 40-year-old, originally from upstate New York, is also considering rental real estate as a whole. Some 20% of nights booked on the platform are for stays of more than a month, he recalls.

“We could allow the signing of leases on the platform or the contract (rental in Airbnb’s current format) could be worth a lease”, imagines Brian Chesky.

“The one-year lease (the most common duration in the United States) is a weird thing, which will no longer be necessary in the future”, launches the leader. “We will continue to add new protections for the user and for the host”, in order to offer both parties security comparable to a traditional lease.

“I think it’s inevitable that we’re going in that direction,” says Brian Chesky.



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