Since 2008, Airbnb has been offering travelers an alternative to hotels. People can stay in someone’s home and have the opportunity to gain a more personal experience of a local community. Today, the company and many of its hosts are also looking to have a major positive impact on society by supporting social issues on multiple fronts.
Support for Ukrainians
Airbnb’s nonprofit charitable arm, Airbnb.org, has helped fund and facilitate short-term housing for 100,000 refugees who fled Ukraine.1 This effort is an extension of similar efforts the nonprofit has made in the past by offering free temporary housing to 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, as well as to victims of natural disasters and to frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The nonprofit’s efforts in support of those affected by such tragedies has inspired members of its host community to extend the same offer of free housing to those in need during major crises.
Many Airbnb customers have also come to the aid of Ukrainians by booking stays with Ukrainian hosts they don’t intend to use, thereby providing money to Ukrainians who have been without income during the Russian invasion. Such bookings have supplied nearly $2 million in aid. In response, the company has waived the guest fees it would normally charge on bookings so that 100 percent of the money spent on these bookings can go to Ukrainians.2
Addressing the Impact of Social Isolation
Numerous studies have indicated that the social isolation that people experience during pandemics can create mental health issues, including increased incidence of anxiety and depression.3 The premium that Airbnb has put on offering experiences in recent years has helped many people combat the effects of that isolation after lockdowns and travel restrictions were lifted.
Airbnb Experiences immerse travelers in a community and offer activities led by local experts that range from walking with wolves in Los Angeles to listening to live jazz in a repurposed London shipping container.4 Airbnb Social Impact Experiences go a step further by enabling travelers to engage with nonprofits that are addressing social causes around the globe. Instead of simply traveling on their own to an Airbnb destination, people now have many more options to engage with their hosts and with a community of people. The activities range from fishing plastics that can damage marine life from the canals of Amsterdam to helping coach residents of Philadelphia on urban farming.5
Airbnb waives its fee on these bookings so that 100 percent of the money travelers spend on the Social Impact Experiences can go to the sponsoring nonprofit. The program also enables Airbnb to extend its support to underserved areas that historically have not been popular tourist destinations.
Bringing More Money to Local Communities
Ninety percent of Airbnb hosts are individuals, not hotels or professional property managers.6 That enables more of the money spent by guests to go directly into local communities. A study sponsored by Airbnb and Expedia examined the economic impact short-term rentals can have on local economies.7 The study, which focused on the state of Arizona as a representative example, found that:
- Short-term rentals supported more than 75,000 jobs in the state in 2021, exceeding the 71,400 jobs supported by the state’s educational services industry.
- The total labor income produced by visitor spending due to short-term rental activity was $2.8 billion in 2021, with a total economic output of $6.6 billion from guests’ spending. This is nearly equivalent to the combined level of economic activity generated by the agriculture and mining industries in Arizona.
- In 2021, short-term rental visitor spending generated more than $500 million in state and local tax revenue from transient occupancy taxes, as well as employee- and business-derived taxes.
To further support the communities in which its hosts live, Airbnb plans to give $100 million over 10 years to organizations that are improving the lives of residents in communities around the globe.8 Organizations that have received grants already include the Vaga Lume Association in Brazil, which is educating 15,000 children in the Amazon, and the Mann Deshi Foundation in India, which is helping to economically empower women in rural areas.
Airbnb Stays Are More Sustainable Than Hotel Visits
A study found that Airbnb properties, relative to hotels, on a per night basis:9
- Consume 63 percent less energy in North America and 78 percent less in Europe
- Produce 61 percent less greenhouse gas emissions in North America and 89 percent less in Europe
- Consume 12 percent less water in North America and 48 percent less in Europe
- Lead to 32 percent more waste avoidance in North America and 0 percent to 28 percent more in Europe
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. Airbnb is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Airbnb’s efforts support SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being; SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.
1 How you can help refugees fleeing Ukraine, Airbnb.org, 3/1/22, and Airbnb has now helped shelter 100,000 Ukrainian refugees: ‘Our work is just beginning,’” MarketWatch, 9/3/22
2 Airbnb bookings in Ukraine have raised nearly $2 million in aid,” NPR, 3/5/22
3 Forced social isolation due to COVID‐19 and consequent mental health problems: Lessons from hikikomori, NIH National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 7/27/20
4 Airbnb Experiences Update, Airbnb, 4/30/19
5 10 Social Impact Experiences to Explore at Your Next Airbnb,” Causeartist
6 Takeaways from Airbnb’s First Earnings Call as a Publicly Traded Company, VRM Intel, 2/26/21
7 Airbnb and Expedia Group release new data on the economic impact of short-term rentals in Arizona, org, 2/24/22
8 Airbnb’s $10 million investment in communities,” Airbnb
9 A greener way to travel: the environmental impacts of home sharing,” blog at Airbnb.com
The business profiled was selected based on its reported alignment with one or more U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change. This material may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside of Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. Past performance is not indicative of future results. All investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Differences in account size, timing of transactions and market conditions prevailing at the time of investment may lead to different results, and clients may lose money. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any security will continue to be owned by Sands Capital. All investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. Company logos and website images are used for illustrative purposes only and were obtained directly from the company websites. Company logos and website images are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and use of a logo does not imply any connection between Sands Capital and the company. GIPS® Reports and additional disclosures for the related composites may be found in the Sands Capital GIPS Report. RO 2425139