11th June, New Delhi: Airbnb launches Go Near, a new initiative to support economic growth through domestic travel. The announcement comes as local travel begins to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the world begins to travel again.
Our booking data shows that travel globally 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. This fact sheet details the steps we are taking to work with local communities and our efforts to best serve hosts and guests around the world based on the trends we are seeing.
1. 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.
In India we have signed partnerships with SEWA, Princess Diya Kumari Foundation and Nagaland Tourism to promote community-based tourism. What we have found is that as people travel again, conscious choices and preference for sustainable travel will lead recovery, benefiting communities and encouraging safe travel.
● SEWA hosts have earned almost $18,000 (INR 1.45 million) by hosting over 700 guests from across 15 different countries. In 2019, our SEWA hosts’ earnings from hosting increased by 25 percent compared with the previous year.
● The in-person experiences we offer in partnership with the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation in Jaipur also give visitors the opportunity to learn local crafts from rural women in Rajasthan, which in turn helps them market their products better and aids them in taking the next step towards financial self-sufficiency.
● Holidays in farms, nature holidays off the beaten track, and other unique destinations that are a road trip away may do well. This will also be a sensible choice as local small-scale businesses will be supported benefiting the local economy, and for travellers it will also result in more unique, individual experiences.
The effort to make the Airbnb platform available as a tool for community recovery is also informed by data on how Airbnb has supported economic empowerment in the past.
For example, in India, Airbnb had an estimated direct economic impact of around $150 million (over INR 1,035 crore), with Indian hosts earning over INR 190 crore in 2018.
2. Go Near
In a survey commissioned by Airbnb, nearly half of respondents in the US said that they would prefer to stay within a day’s drive for their first trip once lockdown restrictions lifted 1 . Since the pandemic began, the percentage of bookings made on Airbnb which have been within 300 kms ( a round trip travelers can generally complete on one tank of fuel), has grown from one-third in February to over a half of all bookings in May.
In India, 51% of our business comprises domestic bookings (people from India travelling within the country). In addition, search trends and Wish Lists by Airbnb users in India indicate that long lockdowns have only piqued interest in and aspirations to travel, once the lockdown is eased. Key domestic markets for Airbnb are Goa, New Delhi, Rajasthan, Mumbai & Bangalore, but we are also seeing a surge in searches for stay options in nearby cities especially near metros like Alibag, Lonavala, Panchgani near Mumbai.
We have seen through travel trends that summer travel is top of mind. The most common words in recent Wish Lists by Airbnb users are ‘beach’ and ‘summer 2020’, and in India, 70% of visitors to the platform (many of whom are exploring stays for couples, with friends, and for families) are searching with dates in the near future (starting July 2020). As states in India open up, driving holidays, experiential travel, rural & farm stays and generally conscious travel choices, are some of the biggest trends emerging from India.
3. Social Connection
The power of connections is strong even when people can’t travel. We have seen close to 50,000 bookings of more than 400 Online Experiences since the offering was launched less than two months ago, making Online Experiences the fastest-growing product Airbnb has launched.
● India is one of the most popular markets for Online Experiences in terms of bookings in the APAC region. There has been a 3x increase in bookings from India since we launched Online Experiences over a month ago.
● Across APAC, the top Online Experiences users are booking are in the Food & Drink, Sports & Wellness and Art & Culture categories. Bring the Flavors of India to Life at Home (from New Delhi, India) is a Top 5 APAC Online Experience, which features a host offering know-how on traditional Indian cooking. This is one of the most booked Experiences in India, with over 130 reviews in less than a month. It is also priced at $19/ INR 1,500.
● We are working with other local influencers and experts to teach yoga, fitness, cocktail-making and cooking across different cities in India.
4. Affordable Travel With the prospect of an economic downturn, people are looking for more affordable ways to travel as well as make money, while businesses are communities are looking forward to the economic benefits that travel brings.
● Two fifths (38 percent) of Americans surveyed said that their financial circumstances have changed for the worse due to the pandemic and 37 percent expect to spend less on travel over the next 12 months compared to what they spent in 2019.
● Even with reduced travel, Airbnb has the potential to generate millions of dollars for local economies.
● Near-city travel and road trips may be a more affordable option in India for travellers, given this consideration. Gen Z travellers, who may be the first generation that takes to travel, may also look to exercise budget-friendly options for travel, through unique stays and nature/adventure experiences.
Addressing the new campaign, Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager - Airbnb India, said, “We believe that the pursuit of human connection and experiences is perennial. For India, the launch of ‘Go Near’ is a reflection on people’s desire to travel closer home to some really amazing domestic destinations that India has to offer - the trends show us that people are eager to travel once again with new considerations of safety. Airbnb will continue to follow guidance from local officials and encourage safe, responsible travel and work to ensure guests have great experiences. At Airbnb we are also going back to our roots, ensuring our hosts are heard, and making sure that we are doing everything we can in partnership with authorities to help them in their economic recovery”.
As part of that work, in April, we announced that we had engaged former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to help develop an industry standard-setting Enhanced Cleaning Protocol for hosts on Airbnb. This Protocol, which includes a step-by-step cleaning handbook designed for everyday hosts, is now available to hosts in the United States and will be available to hosts around the world in the weeks ahead. Hosts who attest to following the program will have a specific highlight on their listing making it easy for guests to identify and book listings that follow the first overarching standardized protocol for cleaning and sanitization in the home sharing industry. The Enhanced Cleaning Protocol has been developed in consultation with leading experts in hospitality and medical hygiene, with tools and support to help hosts meet these standards.