Airbnb IPO: a barometer for travel after the pandemic

World

Airbnb IPO: a barometer for travel after the pandemic

The company has been battered by Covid-19, but hopes there will be no long-term change to consumer habits

Dave Lee and Miles Kruppa

For decades, Cathryn Blum has been a film location scout in San Francisco in the US, helping productions from James Bond to Top Gear make use of the picturesque west coast city.

Now in her mid-60s, she decided a decade ago to start taking less work. To make ends meet, in 2010 she became one of the first hosts on Airbnb, renting out the spare room and bathroom in the home she affectionately calls the “nest”. But now, as the coronavirus pandemic ravages Airbnb’s business, hosts such as Blum have borne the brunt of the uncertainty and disruption.

Even if she wanted to, San Francisco health restrictions now forbid Blum from renting out her spare room while she is staying in the house. If business doesn’t return early in the new year, she’s worried she will be forced to move, no longer able to pay her mortgage...

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