The past several days have seen a general updraft in the value of Airbnb (ABNB -1.12%) shares, including gains of 8.6% yesterday and a further 6.2% today, as of 12:35 p.m. EST.
These gains roughly correspond with a new plan that Airbnb floated over the weekend. As TheHill reported Friday afternoon, Airbnb is following in the footsteps of companies like Walmart and Amazon.com, and offering its help to the new Biden administration in accelerating the rollout of vaccinations against COVID-19.
Early last year, the arrival of the coronavirus on American shores threatened to destroy the business model of this recent IPO, as the travel and vacation industries ground to a halt. Last quarter alone, revenue at the company declined 18% year over year, with a corresponding shrinkage in profits.
But now, Airbnb has a plan to turn the coronavirus against itself -- and maybe get some of that business back.
Specifically, Airbnb proposes utilizing its vast database of information on residential space available for rent to identify locations that could be used for storing vaccines, distributing vaccines, and even housing traveling health workers who are performing the vaccinations. In locations "where there are limited or no healthcare facilities or pharmacies," proposes Airbnb senior vice president for global policy and communications Christopher Lehane, Airbnb could help set up "vaccine depots" to help the administration with its effort to vaccinate 100 million Americans in its first 100 days.
There's no word yet on whether the administration is taking Airbnb up on its offer. But even so, commentators such as Politico are highlighting Airbnb's efforts to "cozy on up" to the new administration.
Worst case, Airbnb could garner some political goodwill from its offer. Best case, Airbnb might turn the tables on the coronavirus, and finagle it into a new revenue stream for the company -- one that could last literally all the way until the coronavirus pandemic ends, and business and vacation travel resumes.