Airbnb bookings jump 52% as vaccinations spur vacation rental demand


FILE PHOTO: The Airbnb logo is seen on a little mini pyramid under the glass Pyramid of the Louvre museum in Paris, France, March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

(Reuters) - Airbnb Inc beat Wall Street expectations for first-quarter gross bookings and revenue on Thursday, as speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and easing restrictions encouraged more people to check into its vacation rentals.

Gross bookings jumped 52% to $10.29 billion in the quarter, easily beating analysts' estimates of $6.93 billion.

"For guests aged 60 and above in the U.S., who were amongst the first groups to benefit from vaccine rollouts, searches on our platform for summer travel increased by more than 60% between February and March 2021," Airbnb said.

The San Francisco-based company expects second-quarter revenue to be similar to 2019 levels, adding that the return of urban and cross-border travel is likely to underpin growth over the coming quarters.

Airbnb is also set to benefit from demand for longer stays and a shift to traveling in groups by business travelers, Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said on a post-earnings call.

The company has weathered the pandemic better than rivals as people turned to its offering of larger spaces and locations away from major cities in the era of social distancing.

It recorded a surge in bookings in Britain after the government laid down plans in February to exit lockdown, while the easing of travel restrictions in France earlier this month also lifted demand.

Airbnb, however, said it was too early to predict if the recovery momentum would continue at the same pace in the second half of 2021.

Its revenue rose 5.4% to $886.9 million in the first quarter ended March 31, exceeding estimates of $714.4 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization narrowed to $59 million, from $334 million a year earlier, largely due to cost cuts.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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