Record bookings at Airbnb as travel comes back

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Airbnb has revealed record bookings as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic and hosts struggle to sign up.

The vacation rental company said it is “in the midst of our strongest travel season yet” and July 4 was the highest-ever daily revenue.

The American company expects to achieve record sales and profit in the third quarter ending in September.

The number of entries increased by almost a quarter, in both urban and non-urban destinations. The group achieved 103.7 million bookings in the three months to June, a 24 percent jump from 2019.

Revenue rose to $2.1 billion (£1.7 billion), up 73 percent from two years ago, and profits rose to $379 million from a $297 million loss in the same period.

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Airbnb said its strong performance was driven by austerity measures during the pandemic, which led to 1,900 layoffs, and its “customizable” business model.

The rise in the number of host families may be partly due to a global cost of living tightness that has led to a race by households to supplement their incomes.

Chief executive Brian Chesky said: “The second quarter of 2022 demonstrates that we have achieved large-scale growth and profitability.

“Our strength this quarter is the result of our ability to stay focused and disciplined while continuing to relentlessly innovate.”

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Shares lost 7 percent in after-hours trading, after falling more than a third since the start of the year.

During the quarter, the company closed its facility in China due to the “expensive and complex challenges of operating in the country”, exacerbated by its zero-covid policy and ongoing lockdowns. All entries in the region were removed in July.

It unveiled an alternative to the default search option in May in hopes of providing a solution to overtourism, which critics say it has contributed to.

The home page now shows a series of destinations that are suggested to users, who can still search by destination and date if desired.

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In its previous financial update, the company had upgraded its outlook for the summer quarter in hopes that travel would return to pre-pandemic levels.

Bookings in the first quarter had surpassed 2019 numbers for the first time since the spread of Covid-19.

It comes at a time when authorities in the UK are cracking down on short-term holiday rentals, including on websites such as Airbnb.

Earlier this week, the Scottish government approved plans to monitor rentals in Edinburgh and force Airbnb hosts to apply for a permit to rent out their properties.

Last month, the Welsh government announced a similar measure alongside a limit on the number of second homes.

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