As Airbnb announces its IPO, bookings have increased to new highs despite lockdown

Key Takeaways

• As expected, during the initial lockdown in March and April, customer spending on online bookings fell dramatically for Airbnb and the hotels studied (Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental).

• From April 27 to the beginning of June, spending climbed quickly for these companies. Airbnb rose the fastest with an average of 32% week-over-week growth.

• Airbnb spending in July was up 22% over the previous July, and spending the week of August 17 was 75% higher than the equivalent week in 2019.

March 2020 was a monumentally difficult period for the hospitality industry. As the US began feeling the impact of COVID-19, travelers began canceling flights and hotel bookings left and right. With these cancellations taking a toll on the travel industry—not to mention all the bookings that now will never be made—the question arose of how and when hotels and Airbnb would bounce back.

When Airbnb filed for an IPO, the news turned some heads as the general consensus was that the hospitality industry had yet to recover from its March lows. But is that really the case? To find out, Edison Trends studied 465,000 transactions to see how the industry has fared since March.

How have Airbnb and hotel online bookings been affected by COVID-19?

Figure 1a: Chart shows estimated online spend on Airbnb and hotel bookings by week from December 31, 2018 - August 23, 2020. Note: The highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. This analysis was performed on over 400,000 transactions at Airbnb, Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group.

The amount that customers in our panel spent on online bookings at major hotels and Airbnb dropped steeply between the weeks of March 2 and March 16, falling 75% for Marriott and 74% for InterContinental, 68% for Hilton, and 56% for Airbnb. However, from the week of April 27 until the beginning of June, spending climbed again, with all these brands together averaging a 20% week-over-week increase. Looking at how much Airbnb grew the week of April 27 versus the previous week — 71% — and at how much of a week-over-week increase they saw in each of the next four weeks (9, 43, 24, and 13% respectively), that means Airbnb itself averaged 32% weekly growth over the five-week period. They now lead the pack, with 34% more customer spending the week of August 17 than next-closest competitor, Hilton.

For the most part, Airbnb has remained on a plateau since the beginning of June, but their numbers for the week of August 10 were their peak for the year so far, sitting 49% over those for the first week of 2020. Total July spend was 22% higher than it had been in 2019.

Looking at the distance fallen between the week of March 2nd and each merchant's lowest point, and how much of that fall has been made up, we can see that Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental have each gained back about 38% of the ground they lost. Airbnb, however, has not only gained back all lost ground but has grown an additional 41% beyond where they were the week of March 2nd. As The Economist reported, Staycations and month-long rentals have been in higher demand for Airbnb, as these types of rentals are seen as better-suited for long stays and work-from-home trips than are hotels. This may have played a role in Airbnb’s rapid gains.

Figure 1b: Chart shows estimated year-over-year spend on Airbnb comparing spend from December 31 - August 25, 2018 vs. December 30 - August 23, 2020. Note: Values are taken from previous chart, where the highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. This analysis was performed on over 65,000 transactions at Airbnb.

For the first ten weeks of 2020, customer spending at Airbnb was on track with values from 2019. That changed as of the week of March 2, when the decline due to COVID-19 began. During the week of April 6, 2020, spend on Airbnb bookings was 75% lower than it had been during the equivalent week in 2019. After this, the service's fortunes began to rise again, and as of the week of May 18 they were surpassing their 2019 values. Most recently, in the 34th week of the year (that of August 17 in 2020), spend was 75% higher than the equivalent week (August 19) in 2019.

As the market evolves, we will continue to stay on top of the latest trends. To learn more about how Edison Trends can help your business, contact us at For more up-to-date insights in the e-commerce space, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @EdisonTrends.

*The data shown is based on a sample of anonymized and aggregated e-receipts from millions of consumers in the United States.