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.