Airbnb (ABNB -1.04%) reported earnings results that showed some impressive growth from last year. More interestingly, the earnings release that came Thursday, Aug. 12, showed growth from 2019. 

The latter is more impressive because it's compared against results from before the devastation to its business caused by the pandemic. Beyond the headline numbers of revenue growth and an increase in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization was a peculiar figure that highlights potential better times ahead. 

A family arriving at a home with luggage in hand.

Airbnb's business is bouncing back as the vaccination campaign progresses. Image source: Getty Images.

The future looks bright 

Funds receivable and amounts held on behalf of customers increased to $6.3 billion in the second quarter, up from $4.4 billion in Q2 2019. The metric captures reservations made but not yet experienced. For instance, if you were to book a room on Airbnb for this December, the dollar value of your order would go here. The 43% increase in the metric shows people are ready to boost travel.

Importantly, Airbnb takes its share from these reservations to provide its services, bringing hosts and guests together. The fees it will earn on those $6.3 billion in reservations are estimated to be $1.48 billion, an increase of 41% from the same time in 2019.

So while the headline revenue figure showed growth of 10% versus the same quarter in 2019, these forward-looking metrics show the growth could accelerate as the year progresses.

Indeed this quote from management in its earnings release encapsulates that sentiment: 

As vaccinations rise and restrictions ease, more people are traveling. We saw strong demand for bookings in Q2, achieving the highest gross nights booked (defined as nights booked prior to cancellations and alterations) of any quarter in our history. Guests from countries with high vaccination rates, including the U.S. and parts of Europe, are driving the travel recovery.

The U.S. and Europe are in the top tier of countries vaccinating their populations against COVID-19. They had earlier access to vaccines and were quick to roll them out to the public. The rest of the world is ramping up. As of this writing, 4.6 billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide, going into arms at an average of 38 million doses per day. At that rate, 75% of the world's population could be vaccinated in six months.

What this could mean for investors

Airbnb's Q2 results take one more step in confirming the thesis of pent-up demand for travel uncoiling as economies reopen. Still, there are a few ways this recovery can be disrupted. For one, variants of the coronavirus like delta have been infecting more in spite of vaccines and causing a surge in cases. Another could be a mass call to return to offices for remote workers. Both could present short-term headwinds, but the probability still favors a continuing rebound in travel as economies ease travel restrictions.

Airbnb is trading at a forward price-to-sales ratio of 17.48 and is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. However, the ensuing rebound in travel and the company's excellent long-run prospect make the stock an attractive opportunity for long-term investors.