Airbnb shows travellers are bucking recessionary fears

Airbnb has boosted Wall Street’s expectations for the coming months as it prepares for a bumper summer travel season after the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions across the world.

Airbnb last night forecast current-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates as demand for travel defied the economic gloom.

The home-sharing platform said the stronger dollar and reopening of borders had boosted consumers’ willingness to travel even as recession fears added to concerns over discretionary spending. “We’re particularly encouraged by European guests booking their summer travel earlier this year,” Airbnb said.

In late trading in New York last night shares in Airbnb rose $11.43, or 9.5 per cent, to $132.30, valuing the company at $77 billion.

The company forecast first-quarter revenue of between $1.75 billion and $1.82 billion, higher than analysts’ expectations of $1.69 billion, according to Refinitiv. It expects to maintain last year’s margins in 2023 by maintaining a tight rein on costs.

It also forecast that average rates for its rentals would fall slightly in the current quarter and would remain under pressure through 2023 as holidaymakers concentrate on seeking out lower-cost urban rentals.

Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb helped to transform the international travel market by enabling users to rent out rooms and homes.

The company said it had added 900,000 active listings year-on-year, bringing the total available listings on its platform to a record 6.6 million, 16 per cent higher than in 2021.

Revenue rose 24 per cent to $1.9 billion during the holiday quarter to the end of December, lower than the preceding two quarters, but higher than estimates of $1.86 billion. Fourth-quarter average daily rates fell 1 per cent to $153 and bookings rose 20 per cent to $13.5 billion, below an average expectation of $13.69 billion.

Airbnb reported a quarterly net profit of $319 million, compared with a profit of $55 million a year ago.