This pandemic has been like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going and going, taking a devastating toll on people and businesses. We’ve seen businesses that have been around for decades closing their doors. These juggernauts seemed secure, but if there’s one thing that’s clear in today’s marketplace is that no one’s safe.

In harmony with that statement one industry that’s been absolutely leveled is the hospitality industry. While people desperately wanna get away they can’t. As a result bookings haven’t just hit rock bottom, they’re journeying to the center of the earth. That’s what happened to Airbnb. They saw an 80% drop in bookings. They were refunding cancelled bookings and the company that was in the midst of rapid expansion with talks of an IPO release was on the brink of failure. Amazingly, they bounced back.

Small businesses are touted with the advantage of being able to turn on a dime, because they don’t have lots of overhead and infrastructure the big brands like Airbnb have. However, Airbnb was able to turn on a dime and stave off extinction. This is how.


Lesson 1: Trim the Fat

Kinda obvious, but still needs to be said. Cut unneeded expenses and scale budgets back. One thing YOU DO NOT DO is stop marketing. You can scale it back, but don’t stop. If people don’t know you’re still around then you won’t be after long.


Lesson 2: Back to Basics

Previously Airbnb was looking to expand into hotel bookings and other things industry-related. All of that was put on freeze. They instead focused on what helped them to grow, local home bookings.


Ask yourself, “What were the things that made my business grow?”

For inspiration and ideas, re-read your reviews, look at your best sellers and focus on strengthening those products or services so that you can solidify your brand loyalty.


Lesson 3: Fill the New Hole

Even in down markets there’s opportunities that can be taken advantage of. Identifying and then capitalizing on them is how you turn on a dime. Though you may not have the budget to fully immerse yourself in a new opportunity you can still capture what you can. In Airbnb’s case distance travel bookings were down and weren’t coming back anytime soon but, local bookings were up.


How did they know that? Data.

They analyzed their data and saw many bookings were within driving distance of the client, which made sense since people weren’t flying. Additionally, people weren’t looking to rent rooms but whole houses because they didn’t want to catch anything from shared spaces. Airbnb then changed their algorithm to show clients what they wanted to see and was able to capitalize on it.


In the same way, analyze your data

To see where and how you’re still getting business. Identify trends and pivot your business to capitalize on them. The next article will discuss the most important thing you can do to adapt — stand up as the leader.


Don’t Miss Part 2!

Click here to read part two of this series.



Adapted from Preetika Rana, Maureen Farrell. “How Airbnb Pulled Back From the Brink.” The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2020.


Banner and Feature Image Credit

Airbnb’s Cancelled Listings Create a Surplus of Rental Inventory: How Property Owners Can Mitigate the Flux


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George Paul III


George Paul III is a branding expert and award-winning designer. He’s the Founder of Seize the Brand, an education platform designed to empower business owners by leveraging the power of branding to realize business and life goals.




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