AP – Airbnb reported a USD55-million profit for the fourth quarter (Q4), reversing a huge loss a year earlier, as its revenue soared above pre-pandemic levels.
The San Francisco-based short-term-stay company said bookings surged in small and towns and rural areas, and improved even in urban areas, which were hit hardest earlier in the pandemic.
Airbnb hosts were also able to raise prices. The average daily rate in late 2021 was USD154, a 20 per cent jump from a year earlier and 36 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2019. The company cited strong demand for rentals in North America and an ongoing shift toward customers booking entire homes and vacation destinations where prices are usually higher.
The company predicted that bookings and prices will rise again in the first quarter because of strong demand for travel. Together, the company said, those trends will boost first-quarter revenue to between USD1.41 billion and USD1.48 billion, well above the USD1.23 billion forecast in a FactSet survey of analysts.
Airbnb shares rose six per cent to close at USD180.07 in regular trading, then gained almost four per cent after the closing bell.
Airbnb said the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had less effect on bookings and cancellations than last year’s Delta variant. Virus cases are still at high levels in the United States (US), but the San Francisco-based company said summer bookings made by the end of January were running 25 per cent ahead of the same time in 2019, before the pandemic.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky told analysts on a call that he is confident cross-border travel and bookings in cities will pick up. He repeated a longstanding theme of his: that the pandemic has freed some people to work remotely, leading to an increase in long-term bookings on the site.