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Airbnb Is Now Millennials’ Preferred Place to Stay While Travelling

Even though travel slowed down in 2020, this brand has steadily grown to become Millennial travelers’ go-to place to stay…



As things slowly go back to normal, young travelers are unleashing their pent up wanderlust. YPulse predicted a roaring ‘20s experience rebound at the beginning of 2021, and our recent travel and outdoors behavioral report found that 63% of 13-39-year-olds agree: “Travel is even more important to me now than it was before Coronavirus.” But even though travel looked different last year, young consumers still found safer alternatives: getting outdoors, going on roadtrips, and domestic travel were all popular during the pandemic. And in fact, the last year might have helped to shift their travel preferences for the long-term. 

Our most recent travel report found a clear winner coming out of pandemic travel: Airbnb. When we asked young consumers where they’d prefer to stay when travelling in the future, Airbnb is now at the top of the list for those over 18-years-old (a.k.a. those most likely to be making travel accommodations themselves: 

When we asked the same question in 2019, “national hotel chain” was at the top of the list for those 18+, and in 2020 the top answer was overwhelmingly “with family” as young travelers avoided many accommodations during the pandemic’s peak. But this year, Airbnb outranked both. The pandemic certainly helped solidify Airbnb as a go-to for many: According to the travel company, the number of bookings from mid-May to the beginning of June last year was greater than the weeks from the previous year. Vacation preferences with short international trips were replaced with in-country stays in vacation homes as many employees used their remote working schedule to “work from anywhere.” VRBO reported that customers were renting vacation homes rather than hotels, since it is easier to socially distance in those spaces. Airbnb has also said that domestic travel will continue to be their “bread and butter” in 2021with 62% of travelers saying they were looking to take a vacation “within driving distance” this year. 

But YPulse’s data shows that for Millennials, this affinity for Airbnb isn’t coming out of nowhere—it has been growing steadily for years:

We’ve asked young consumers “Where would you prefer to stay when traveling?” for years, and the number of 18+ who say Airbnb has been increasing since 2017, with a small dip in 2020 likely due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the number who say they prefer to stay in a national hotel in the future has been on the decline. While the pandemic may have accelerated this trend (as it has with many) Airbnb’s rise has a longer history than just the last year. 

The number who say they have used Airbnb for accommodations in the last year themselves has also been steadily rising: 

The number of 18+ who have used Airbnb for accommodations increased each year between 2017 to 2019. While we did not ask this question in 2020 during COVID, there has been little drop off between the number who used Airbnb for accommodations from 2018-2019 and 2020-2021. The lack of a steep decline even coming out of a pandemic indicates Airbnb’s status as a Millennial travel go-to is a lasting one. And when we ask about their future plans, even more plan to stay at Airbnb in the coming year than did in 2020: 

When we asked young consumers to describe the travel they were planning for the coming year, in 2020, 8% of 18-39-year-olds chose “staying at an Airbnb”—this year, 14% tell us they have Airbnb as part of their travel plans. Remember, that doesn’t include those who haven’t yet planned their trips, and the number who will actually stay at an Airbnb will likely be higher. Hotels already have their work cut out when it comes to winning back young travelers, and in the face of Airbnb’s strong performance with this group it could be a difficult battle. 

YPulse Business users can access the full travel and outdoors behavioral report and data here.  

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.