Airbnb US adult user base forecast to drop 60 per cent in 2020

US: According to the latest forecasts by market research company eMarketer, Airbnb usage in the United States in 2020 is expected to drop by 60 per cent on 2019 levels.

However, in a more optimistic outlook for the home-sharing platform, its usage is anticipated to recover to near-pre-pandemic levels by the second half of the 2021 fiscal year.

This year, Airbnb’s US adult user base is set to decline by 60 per cent to 17 million, marking the first time that it would have experienced a drop in user growth in its 12-year history.

eMarketer estimates that the number of Airbnb users in the United States will pick up again next year, provided that more treatments are developed to remedy against the coronavirus strain and a potential and effective vaccine is distributed throughout the population.

eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence, Eric Haggstrom, said: “Airbnb has seen a significant decline in users because of the pandemic, however, it is expected to outperform the travel industry as some people will continue to travel. This travel will be closer to home and in areas that Airbnb can better serve vs. traditional hotels.”

Given the drop off in users, competition across the home-sharing market has increased, with Expedia vacation rental brand Vrbo set to capitalise and reduce Airbnb’s market share. eMarketer also predicted that while Airbnb would likely remain the dominant booking platform in the vacation rental space, capturing an estimated 72.9 per cent of home-sharing travellers this year, that figure may drop to under 70 per cent by 2022.

Earlier this month, Airbnb announced that it would be filing for its long-awaited IPO this month, after a traumatic period for the platform during the pandemic.

It supposedly lost 80 per cent of its business in six weeks as the company began “haemorrhaging cash”, laid off 25 per cent of its global workforce, cut marketing expenditure and slashed spending across its non-core segments such as hotels and transportation, and faced the wrath of hosts and guests alike for its initial refund policies and reported lack of payments.

In the meantime, its value plummeted to approximately $18 billion at the time of its second quick-fire funding injection in April, a near 50 per cent drop on its valuation just three years ago.

A report by the US Travel Association also indicated that the country’s travel industry lost an estimated $330 billion in potential revenue at the start of the pandemic surge in March, a situation reflected by Airbnb’s own struggles to survive.