Airbnb CEO says company will need millions more hosts to meet surging demand

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The Airbnb logo is displayed on the Nasdaq digital billboard in Times Square in New York on December 10, 2020.
Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images

Airbnb is going to need millions of new hosts to meet incoming demand as travel picks up again, CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC.

“To meet the demand over the coming years, we’re going to need millions more hosts,” Chesky said in an interview that aired Friday on CNBC’s “TechCheck.” Currently, the home-sharing platform has 4 million hosts.

“I think that we probably will have a high cost problem where there will probably be more guests coming to Airbnb than we’ll have hosts for because what we think is we think there’s going to be a travel rebound coming that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Chesky added. “We are working our hardest to get more hosts on the platform.”

The travel industry is seeing an uptick in business as more Americans get vaccinated and state restrictions ease. But for Airbnb, which relies on people to open their homes to guests, the company will need to ramp up its number of hosts instead of building out more real estate or adding flights to meet demand.

It’s a similar problem faced by other companies in the gig economy like Uber, which recently announced a $250 million stimulus in an effort to bring more drivers to its platform.

“As vaccination rates increase in the United States, we are observing that consumer demand for Mobility is recovering faster than driver availability, and consumer demand for Delivery continues to exceed courier availability,” Uber said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Chesky said Airbnb isn’t likely to offer “a lot of incentives” to bring new hosts on board since there’s already a huge amount of demand for service.

“I think that all we have to do is just continue to tell our story of Airbnb, and the benefits of hosting. And we are seeing a lot of interest,” he said.

As part of that, Chesky said the company has done things like launch its “made possible by hosts” ad campaign. The company rolled out a number of advertisements using photographs from Airbnb guests staying in homes around the world, in an effort to create a sense of nostalgia.

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