Airbnb, COVID-19 Risk and Lockdowns: Local and Global Evidence
70 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2020 Last revised: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: November 28, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism industry. We study the impact of COVID-19 on global Airbnb booking activity regarding three factors: the initial Wuhan lockdown, local COVID-19 cases, and local lockdowns. Using reviews and cancellations as proxies for Airbnb bookings, we find that local lockdowns result in a 57.8% fall in global booking activities, with an 8.8% fall after the Wuhan lockdown. Every doubling of newly infected cases is associated with a 4.16% fall in bookings. The sensitivity of bookings to COVID-19 decreases with geographic distance to Wuhan, and increases with government stringency of lockdown policies as well as human mobility within a market. Using London, United Kingdom as a case study, we find private rooms experience over 20% more cancellations than entire homes, consistent with host fears of infection. On the supply side, we find stable listings volume and lower booking price. Hosts charge an infection risk premium of 5.2% for letting private rooms relative to entire homes.We also document hosts adopt a dynamic pricing strategy where dates in the near future have deeper discounts than those in more distant future, and professional hosts adjust prices to local COVID-19 cases more aggressively than non-professionals. Our study provides insights for hosts and policymakers to formulate recovery plans in a post COVID-19 economy.
Keywords: Airbnb, travel activity, COVID-19, lockdown, confinement orders, social distancing
JEL Classification: R30, L83, L85
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation