Over the past decade, a booming demand of tourists had AirBnb connect fly-by-night tourists and short-term renters to “cozy” lofts and five-star “experiences” at homes in exotic locations.
But today if you could freely walk the world’s most famous city streets, you would see humanity stopped in its tracks. National lockdowns and global travel bans have emptied bustling hotspots like Sydney’s Opera House, Bangkok’s night markets, the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome. Global tourism is slammed shut, and the ecosystem that sprang up around them has fallen flat.
Along with air travel, the hotel and AirBnb segment too witnessed a massive drop in numbers. Apartments -read AirBnb- once reserved for well-heeled tourists have seen bookings slump anywhere from 41% to 96%. Some of them are either on long-term rentals or recently offered to health workers in solidarity.
However as lockdown restrictions are eased in several countries, many in the travel industry are hoping that the businesses can resume in the coming months.
Although it is too soon in the day to have the same number of holiday makers as pre -COVID, the entire travel industry is pretty gung ho about the fact that by the end of the year, people would once again have the confidence to travel just as before December 2019
Of course the onus to maintain sanitation and safety falls on all the stake-holders here, and with higher cleaning standards, hygiene and physical (and not ‘social’) distancing, business will once again continue in a new form, and of course as a new normal.
Throughout Europe where customer confidence is returning post the lifting of lockdown, domestic AirBnb reservations are seeing a glimmer of hope for the Hospitality industry that’s been the hardest hit.
Hotel data confirms that most properties almost everywhere in the world are operating at just 10-15 per cent occupancy. COVID-19 is having a more devastating and sudden impact on the travel business than 9/11 and the 2009 financial crisis combined.
And to say that restoring customer trust in this global crisis is of utmost importance for returning customers, both in the air and on ground.
AirBnb had announced that a new cleaning protocol with expert-backed cleaning materials for hosts will include a learning and certification programme.
It is up to the host to maintain strict cleanliness and preventive measures. The protocol will also help to space out reservations to have 24 hours between people entering a room. . Alternatively, hosts can monitor physical distancing by instituting a 72-hour booking buffer in between stays.
Hotels are instituting similarly stringent cleaning policies and protocols. Most hotels are using “enhanced cleaning standards” and a “reduction of touch points” such as tablets or remote controls. The famous ‘breakfast buffets’ are a thing of the past. Most of them are making sure that public space and guest room surfaces are thoroughly treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and are also testing “electrostatic sprayers” to disinfect entire guest areas.
The major concern here is around rebuilding consumer confidence and trust. The tidal wave of cancellations that came along with COVID-19 suddenly made travelers aware of the wide range of terms in bookings — from no-penalty, last-minute cancellations to full liability even months in advance of a trip. Of course this trend will still continue.
Travel in this new world will look different, and feel different. Although it will be a long time before things go back to being anywhere near normal, I am sure along with other things, AirBnb will also evolve accordingly.
As travelers are more likely to skip big cities, staycations in domestic markets and home rentals in smaller townships will see a boom, which will also contribute to positive growth in other micro businesses such as local eateries and local crafts.
People will want options that are closer to home, a lot safer, and more affordable. But people will also yearn for something that feels like it’s been taken away from them—human connect. And they also want to go back -back to their roots, back to the basics, and back to what is truly special —everyday people who host in their homes and offer memorable experiences!
OS: Theprint; Euronews; CNtraveller