Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky predicts a wildly different future of travel and living

Business Insider US
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky
  • Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, predicts that after the pandemic, there's going to be a big change in the reason people travel: They will be traveling for fun, not for work.
  • Previously, people have travelled for work and entertained themselves on screen. That's a pattern he predicts is about to invert.
  • There could also be a rise in people choosing to live as digital nomads because they won't be tied to one city for their job.
  • Chesky is one of more than 200 CEOs who shared their thoughts with Business Insider on how the coronavirus will change the world.
  • For more stories go to

As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, demand for travel plummeted to nearly zero.

Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, which has a business model that relies on people's desire for community and exploration, has a few bold predictions about what travel will look like once the pandemic eases and people feel more free to venture out into the world again.

Chesky is one of more than 200 chief executive officers who spoke with Business Insider for a project that examines how the coronavirus pandemic will change the world.

First, when it comes to leisure travel, Chesky said that people will likely start off by booking more affordable trips that are closer to home. The State Department currently has a Level 4 health advisory in place that warns against all international travel due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. It's not yet clear when the advisory, which was effective as of March 31, will be lifted.

Plus, with unemployment soaring to new heights, a trip abroad will likely be out of the picture for many, even once it is safe to resume. A record 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April.

Traveling for fun, not for work

Chesky said that business travel could also look substantially different in the future.

"I think we're seeing that you can do a lot [via] video conferencing, and that's going to have a big impact on how often people travel for work," Chesky said.

Chesky's thoughts around business travel were echoed by several other CEOs who spoke with Business Insider. Many said they would be more selective when scheduling work trips in the future.

"We used to do a lot of travel for work and then we entertained ourselves on screens. That's going to inverse," Chesky said. "I think we'll work more on screens and entertain ourselves in the real world."

Many people watching the travel industry have predicted that vacations will come back before business trips do. The road trip, in particular, might see a resurgence.

"As home isolation orders are lifted yet physical distancing remains top-of-mind, we anticipate road trips and personal auto travel will rebound faster than group travel," Andre Haddad, CEO of car-sharing platform Turo, told Business Insider.

The freedom to choose where - and how - you want to live

The CEO is also predicting a different trend, one that is in direct opposition to the idea that more people will want to travel locally. He says there could be a rise in people choosing to live as digital nomads and that the homesharing company will focus more on longer-term stays to accommodate those needs.

People choosing to work remotely while travelling to different countries was already a growing trend before the coronavirus. Some have argued that the pandemic has exacerbated common issues in cities - population density and a high cost of living, to name a few - that will eventually lead to a mass exodus from America's urban centers.

"Many people are realising they don't have to be tethered to one city. So you'll see more people who are going to choose to live around the world, spending a few months at a time in different places," Chesky said.

This idea was echoed by Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz, who pointed out that the Spanish Flu of 1918 was followed by a period of renewed human connection in the Roaring Twenties.

"We will return together through live gatherings as we did following the Spanish Flu," Hartz said.

Likewise, Chesky is confident that people will still want to travel in the future.

"In 1950, 25 million people crossed a border, and last year 1.4 billion people did. That happened because there is an innate human desire to travel, to explore and that is never going to go away," he said. "Travel may be on pause, but it's going to come back."

Troy Wolverton contributed reporting.

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