Coronavirus

Airbnb Sees 40 Percent Drop In Bookings; Delays IPO

Airbnb took a hit due to the coronavirus

The toll of the coronavirus on businesses has hit everything from tourism to large gatherings like concerts and conventions. With those goes the value of Airbnb, which saw its bookings fall by 40 percent, according to published reports Thursday (March 12).

According to independent data from analytics group Airdna, the drop was largest in China (previously the fastest-growing market for the rental platform) and parts of Europe where the virus has hit the hardest. Bookings declined particularly in the last two weeks of February, according to the Financial Times.

Airbnb, as a result, has slowed its plans to do an initial public offering at some point this year, now doubtful with the global turmoil.

Among the cancellations were Barcelona's Mobile World Congress and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Airbnb felt the blows, too, as many guests would have used the rental platform to find temporary lodging while attending those events.

Airdna predicted Chinese Airbnb revenues would fall around 43 percent in Beijing this month. There was already a previous 22 percent decline last month. Wang Peng, who manages several rental units in the southern city of Guangzhou, told the Financial Times he had not seen any rentals since the Chinese New Year, and that the need for passes in apartment blocks had further decimated the customer base for out-of-towners.

The U.S. market is not likely to fare better. Analysts reported mass cancellations in some highly urban areas, such as San Francisco and Chicago, along with European popular destinations like London and Paris.

The company didn't say explicitly that its planned IPO would have to be shelved, but investors said the conditions had made it impossible to move forward as was planned before the coronavirus hit, saying it was "rational" instead to wait.

Airbnb is considering a different type of IPO, which would constitute a direct listing without any direct shares.

Airbnb is not alone in delaying its IPO — other companies, like Warner Music Group, Cole Haan and China's 58 Home, have also pushed plans back.

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