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Airbnb Wants You to Be a Nomad

By Evan Niu, CFA - Jun 10, 2021 at 9:00AM

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The home-sharing platform is looking for a dozen people to live on the platform for a year.

"People are living more nomadically," Airbnb (ABNB -2.34%) CEO Brian Chesky said back in February on the company's first earnings call as a public company. "Some people are taking longer-term stays, one or two months at a time in Airbnb."

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, upending nearly every aspect of regular life. While many of those impacts are starting to revert to normalcy in many countries as vaccination rates rise, other trends are likely irreversible and here to stay. Perhaps the most prominent is the shift to remote work, which also allows people to live anywhere.

Woman working on a laptop on a beach

Image source: Getty Images.

Living on Airbnb

In an effort to tap into this newfound flexibility, the dominant home-sharing platform unveiled a new campaign this week called "Live Anywhere on Airbnb." The company is looking for 12 individuals (plus up to three companions) who are interested in living exclusively on Airbnb listings for "approximately" one year -- from July 2021 to July 2022 -- documenting their experiences in the process as part of a program that will help guide the future product roadmap. The stories will ostensibly also be used for marketing purposes in some form.

Airbnb is soliciting applications and will select a diverse range of candidates based on certain criteria, such as interest in travel or storytelling capability. The company says it's primarily looking for remote workers, young families, empty nesters, and staycationers. Airbnb will cover various aspects of the initiative, including a credit for accommodations and a travel allowance.

The fine terms show that Airbnb really only expects people to live on Airbnb for 10 months, in part due to the assumption that travel will start in September 2021 after two months of planning and preparation. Over the course of those 10 months, Airbnb will give recipients $24,000 to $48,000 (based on the number of companions) in Airbnb credits that can be used to book accommodations, plus another $5,000 to $12,000 (also based on how many people will be joining) that can be used for travel and transportation. Any unused credits will expire worthless at the end of the campaign.

As part of Airbnb's separate effort to raise awareness around hosting, the technology company is encouraging participants to list their primary residence to earn extra money while they're globetrotting.

Ready for the rebound

After seeing its business get crushed by the pandemic, Airbnb has spent the last few months preparing for and positioning itself for the resurgence in travel demand. That includes catering to the greater degree of flexibility that many people will retain, even after the virus is defeated.

In Airbnb's first-quarter shareholder letter, it noted that a whopping 24% of nights booked on the platform were for long-term stays (28 days or more), up from just 14% in 2019. Roughly half of all nights booked were for stays of at least seven nights. Airbnb is uniquely suited for this use case. If someone is going to stay somewhere for roughly a month, they're unlikely going to pick a cramped room in a traditional hotel.

"The big trend is flexibility: People are traveling anytime, anywhere, and they're staying longer," Chesky commented on the earnings call last month. "We think all these trends are here to stay."

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Airbnb, Inc. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Airbnb, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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