Airbnb’s business in big cities shrank in late summer compared with a year earlier, previously unreported figures show, as the coronavirus pandemic kept the brakes on urban travel. The steep decline has raised concern inside Airbnb that some hosts might abandon the platform permanently, which would reduce the number of listings and make it harder for Airbnb to show growth once travel rebounds.
A boom in small-town and beachside travel over the summer allowed Airbnb to project renewed confidence after a plunge in revenue this spring when Covid-19 hit. But the largest part of its business—urban stays—continued to suffer. The number of nights that guests stayed in rentals in big cities globally fell between 40% and 50% versus the same late-summer period in 2019, according to internal data viewed by The Information.