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Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: In 2021, travel as an antidote to isolation and disconnection.

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Alex is a Content Editor at Rental Scale-Up. He uses his background in property management to reveal and share vacation rental industry trends.

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Airbnb has released a travel report called “From Isolation To Connection – Travel in 2021”. In our “Airbnb trends 2021: How to get bookings by answering the need to reconnect with loved ones” article, we analyze in-depth Airbnb’s data. We also give property owners and managers actionable insights to attract guests, price their listings right, and take action on new trends that are here to stay.

Here, we are sharing with you the introduction to this travel report that Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky wrote. This is a really well-written summary of the trends that this study underlines.

Loneliness is pervading society

“It’s been nearly a year since the world went into lockdown, and in that time we have probably been more physically isolated than at any other point in human history. Many people are feeling the painful effects of this isolation, and loneliness is pervading society. Technology has provided a means of digital connection, but this is more synthetic and less fulfilling than real human connection— something we desperately miss.

Most of us also miss traveling, and thinking about traveling lifts our spirits and gives us hope. We yearn to be with the people we care about, and this is the main reason why many of us are eager to travel as soon as we feel safe doing so. Any of us trying to predict the future were humbled by 2020 so I won’t be making any long-term predictions. That said, it seems we have enough information now to give a glimpse of what travel in 2021 will look like.

People don’t generally miss landmarks, crowded shuttles, and lines and lobbies packed with tourists.

Once people feel safe to travel, they will. But it will look different than before the pandemic. Travel will be viewed as an antidote to isolation and disconnection. People don’t generally miss landmarks, crowded shuttles, and lines and lobbies packed with tourists. Mass travel is really just a different form of isolation—you are anonymous, herded around with other travelers, never really experiencing the people and culture of a community. What people want from travel now is what they’ve been deprived of—spending meaningful time with their family and friends.

Travel will be less about where you go and when you go, and more about who you are with and what you can do together

In 2021, travel will be less about where you go and when you go, and more about who you are with and what you can do together. More people working from home means more flexibility around when and where they travel. Because of this, there will be fewer travelers visiting the same destinations at the same time, reducing the masses that give mass travel its name. Wherever we go in 2021, for most of us, it won’t be far from home. We will get in cars and travel nearby, dispersing to thousands of smaller cities, towns, and rural communities, making tourism an important part of how local economies recover.

The pandemic’s mark on travel will live on, with some pursuing more affordable options and others changing how they travel for business. Affordable travel will be more important than ever as people’s economic troubles persist; even so, it will not stop most people from traveling. Business travel is the form of travel that people miss the least and is not going to come back like before. Still, connecting in real life still matters, and much of the void left by the old business travel will be replaced by new
business travel. Remote workers distributed far and wide will travel to hubs to spend time with their co-workers, often staying longer than just a few nights.

The need to connect and be together is universal.

Last year, I said that travel as we knew it was never coming back. It’s now becoming clear that we are undergoing a broad shift—a shift from mass travel to meaningful travel. Our own data has suggested as much, and our new US survey helps to confirm this. While this survey is just of American
consumers, we believe that these views are representative of how people feel all around the world. The need to connect and be together is universal. Even this pandemic won’t keep us apart for long.”

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