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Airbnb Posts Biggest Decline in a Year on Weak Travel Outlook

Airbnb Posts Biggest Decline in a Year on Weak Travel Outlook
The Airbnb website on a smartphone arranged in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Airbnb Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on May 9. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc. shares slid by the most in a year after the home-rental company gave lackluster guidance for a second straight quarter, indicating that growth in travel spending will slow ahead of the peak summer season.  

Revenue for the current quarter ending in June will be $2.68 billion to $2.74 billion, the company said Wednesday in a letter to shareholders. Analysts had been expecting $2.74 billion. In its statement, Airbnb blamed the earlier timing of the 2024 Easter holiday, as well as currency headwinds.

The stock was down 6.3% at 10:42 a.m. in New York, its biggest drop since May 10, 2023.

Airbnb and its rivals have been working to establish a new normal since the world emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry’s recovery has been choppy, with demand growing faster in some regions and tapering off in others due to the different pace of reopening from lockdowns. Last week, Booking Holdings Inc. gave worse-than-expected guidance and Expedia Group Inc. issued disappointing results.

Airbnb, which specializes in shared homes and vacation rentals both in urban cities and rural destinations, saw a deceleration in North American nights booked in the first quarter. It has been making an effort through its marketing to differentiate its rentals from hotels in the hopes that people traveling in groups will opt to rent homes with multiple bedrooms. The company said that bookings for groups of six or more people were the fastest growing segment in the region.

Airbnb Outlook Overshadows Beat in First-Quarter Revenue | First-quarter revenue surpassed analysts' estimates, growing 18%

Growth in the current period for nights and experiences booked — a key industry metric — will be “relatively stable” compared with the 9.5% gain it posted in the first quarter. That falls short of analysts’ expectations for a roughly 12% increase. It also represents the slowest rate of growth since 2020, suggesting that overall demand has normalized after an initial post-pandemic travel boom.

The outlook overshadowed an otherwise better-than-expected report for the first quarter, which saw revenue surpass estimates, growing 18% to $2.14 billion thanks to particularly strong gains in Asia and Latin America.

The company is expecting revenue growth to re-accelerate in the third quarter, as key international events like the summer Olympics in Paris and the Euro Cup in Germany are fueling travel demand in the peak summer season.

The continued recovery in international travel has been a bright spot for the travel industry including Airbnb, whose businesses in Latin America and Asia have seen faster growth than in the US. It has also been investing more into less mature markets in those regions to drive near-term gains, including the introduction of limited-edition stays inspired by local cultural icons.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky has said that the company he co-founded in 2007 is ready to expand beyond its core product after spending the past year refining existing offerings. In particular, the company has been focused on making listings more reliable and affordable for guests, as well as encouraging more people to host.

That work has been paying off. The number of active listings in the first quarter grew 15% year-over-year and supply has continued to grow at a double-digit pace across all regions. That’s in spite of the company removing thousands of listings in the first quarter that did not meet guest expectations.

But Wall Street analysts looking for new, non-core products to drive revenue growth may have to wait a bit longer. Chief Business Officer Dave Stephenson has signaled that additional ventures could include a different type of marketplace on Airbnb later this year or next, which will offer cleaning and maintenance services, airport rides, or even private chef or sommelier sessions. Chesky has also said he will share more details on the company’s use of artificial intelligence later this year.

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