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Airbnb Dubs 2021 The Year Of Meaningful Travel

Image via Airbnb

Airbnb surprised many since the onset of the pandemic. Early on, fears grew that it could quickly succumb to a lack of travel and not live up to its lofty private valuation.

"I don't think I'm going to worry much more than in April and May when we saw our business drop 80% in eight weeks in the middle of a pandemic," Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said following last month's IPO.

Airbnb's offering attracted strong demand, finishing its first day of trading with a market capitalization of about $86 billion, more than double the valuation anticipated in the days leading up to the IPO.

Shares of Airbnb have continued to surprise doubters, gaining more than 25% since the close of its first day of trading and giving it a market capitalization of nearly $115 billion.

Airbnb is now trying to prove doubters wrong again, this time by saying that 2021 will see a rebound in travel, but there's a catch. In a report titled "2021 Will Be the Year of Meaningful Travel," Airbnb says survey data shows the majority of Americans miss traveling the most since the pandemic began and are ready to travel again this year.

However, the type of travel Airbnb is predicting to pick up this year is "meaningful" travel to see loved ones as their survey data shows Americans are most eager to reconnect and be in familiar settings.

"When travel returns in 2021, it will be about connecting with loved ones through more personal trips, with mass tourism unlikely to return at any scale this year," the report says. "In the report, US consumers say their near-term travel priority is to spend time with family and friends in comfortable, familiar and secure settings."

Airbnb's survey found that Americans are increasingly feeling isolated and lonely as 53% feel less connected to their extended family and friends. 54% of the survey's respondents said they have either already booked or are currently planning to travel in 2021.

Airbnb also predicts "business travel as we knew it is not coming back" as it was the type of travel people miss the least. More than a third of those surveyed believe they'll travel less for business after the pandemic passes.

"Once people feel safe to travel, they will. Travel will be viewed as an antidote to isolation and disconnection," Chesky wrote in the report. "People don't generally miss landmarks, crowded shuttles, and lines and lobbies packed with tourists. What people want from travel now is what they've been deprived of—spending meaningful time with their family and friends."

As for Airbnb, the company saw the number of bookings for stays of more than 28 nights grow year-over-year for third quarter. The most popular searches on Airbnb for 2021 bookings include Derbyshire, UK, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Forks, Washington and the Muskoka Lakes outside of Toronto, Canada.

As Airbnb proved it was not dead as a result of the pandemic, the company is looking to prove those who believe travel won't rebound in 2021 wrong as well.

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