Airbnb booking data from China offers glimpse of a rebound

Airbnb earlier this month secured US$2 billion in credit in two different deals.
Airbnb earlier this month secured US$2 billion in credit in two different deals.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - While the coronavirus pandemic has frozen global travel and hit the travel industry hard, data from home-sharing start-up Airbnb Inc shows the number of domestic bookings in China for the first half of April were up more than 200 per cent compared with the same period in March.

Data from AirDNA, a separate analytics firm, showed the number of bookings for the week of April 13 in 10 big Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, were up nearly 80 per cent from the week of March 16, which AirDNA chief executive Scott Shatford said was the bottom for that market. Still that's about half the bookings seen the week of Jan 6. Mr Shatford said his firm's data includes bookings from international travellers staying in China.

AirDNA data also show the daily average rate in China from May onward is similar to what it was in 2019. Mr Shatford said Airbnb owners do not offer big discounts online to lure travellers the way hotels might.

China is an important market for Airbnb, and the country's recovery from the coronavirus outbreak is being closely watched as an indication on how other countries now reeling from the virus and related shutdowns may fare.

Airbnb earlier this month secured US$2 billion (S$2.85 billion) in credit in two different deals. One included warrants that can be exercised at a price that would equate with an US$18 billion valuation - well below the US$31 billion valuation seen in Airbnb's 2017 Series F fund-raising round.

"After we're given the 'all clear' and you're ready to venture out of your home and into other cities, where are you going to want to stay?" said Mr Paul Maguire, managing partner at Iron Edge VC, whose fund owns Airbnb and is looking to buy more on the secondary market. "You'd be more likely to opt for a short-term house rental than checking into a big Marriott filled with hundreds of strangers."