By Sanjana Shivdas
(Reuters) -Airbnb Inc on Tuesday announced a slew of new features including a translation tool to be launched later this year and expanded insurance for hosts, as easing COVID-19 curbs send more people to its home-rental app.
The features, aimed at facilitating rising cross-border travel and longer stays, will help Airbnb further capitalize on a pandemic-driven shift in consumer preference towards non-urban destinations and alternative accommodations.
“What you’re going to see is as the world moves into a post COVID-19 world, people are going to travel a lot more than they did before, certainly a lot more than they do now,” Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky told Reuters in an interview.
Chesky expects the new tool, which will be able to translate listing descriptions and reviews in 60 languages, to help in bookings, especially in Europe and Asia Pacific where there is high demand for cross-border travel.
Airbnb said more than 100,000 guests stayed on its rental properties for at least three straight months in the past year.
Its “AirCover” insurance will offer hosts protection against pet damage as global searches surge on its platform for pet-friendly listings.
Truist analyst Naved Khan expects the latest upgrades to drive incremental growth at Airbnb. The brokerage maintains its “hold” rating on the stock.
Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings to the United States on Monday, as the country lifted pandemic-driven travel curbs imposed in early 2020.
Overall cross-border travel has risen steadily to 33% of gross nights booked in the third quarter, compared with 27% in the second and 20% in the first quarter, Airbnb said.
As of Nov. 8, the top destinations for inbound foreign travel to the United States include Los Angeles, Miami and New York, according to Airbnb.
(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Vinay Dwivedi)