Airbnb 'don’t know exactly' when travel will return, lays off global workforce

Airbnb's business has been hit hard, with revenue this year forecasted to be less than half of was earned in 2019 as global travel come to a standstill due to Covid-19. - AFP

One of the hardest hit industries in the time of Covid-19 is the travel sector and Airbnb is the latest casualty. The home-sharing platform is laying off nearly 1,900 of its employees, comprising about 25% of its global workforce.

Airbnb chief executive officer Brian Chesky said the company’s business has been hit hard, with revenue this year forecasted to be less than half of what was earned in 2019 as global travel come to a standstill.

"While these actions were necessary, it became clear that we would have to go further when we faced two hard truths: We don’t know exactly when travel will return and when travel does return, it will look different,” he said in a statement.

According to Chesky, travel post-coronavirus “will look different”.

"People will want options that are closer to home, safer, and more affordable. But people will also yearn for something that feels like it’s been taken away from them – human connection,” he said.

Moving forward, the company will reduce investment in activities that do not directly support its host community.

"While we know Airbnb’s business will fully recover, the changes it will undergo are not temporary or short-lived," Chesky added.

Airbnb’s host and guest community generated approximately RM3bil in estimated direct economic impact in Malaysia in 2018.

The platform also welcomed more than 3.25 million guests in Malaysia that year.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a harsh impact on the home-sharing company.

Some home owners have reportedly struggled to pay bills as travellers cancelled bookings overnight.

As part of its extenuating circumstances policy, Airbnb allowed customers to receive a full cash refund due to Covid-19.

The company also created a fund to reimburse hosts for some of their losses.
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