The days of hopping on a plane for a day of meetings are long gone and the COVID-19 pandemic means they’re not coming back.
While business travel itself isn’t “dead”, it is set to change significantly, according to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.
“Business travel as we knew it isn't coming back the way it was,” he told CNN.
"The reason why is the bar is higher to get on a plane to do a meeting."
As the pandemic forced workers to conduct meetings from their living rooms and kitchens, the idea of going into the office for a face-to-face meeting, let alone flying to another city, state or country, has become unrealistic.
"I think that people now have what they didn't have a year or two ago. Many people now have flexibility. They have flexibility where they travel and live and work - and they're starting to combine all those," he said.
"I think once people have something, they don't want to let go of it."
However, Chesky doesn’t believe this shift will pose challenges for the share accommodation platform’s future.
Airbnb has seen travel activity return to 2019 levels, with travellers now choosing to head away for longer.
He said nearly a quarter of bookings in the first three months of 2021 have been for stays of 28 days or more.
Airbnb overhaul: Refunds in the spotlight
The company recently announced dozens of changes, including flexible date searches, changed cancellation policies and a redesigned help centre.
Under its new refund policy, guests affected by COVID-19 lockdowns may now not be eligible for refunds.
Previously, Airbnb considered pandemic cancellations to be “unforeseen”, meaning guests will need to abide by individual hosts’ cancellation rules.
“After the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the extenuating circumstances policy no longer applies because COVID-19 and its consequences are no longer unforeseen or unexpected,” Airbnb said.