Airbnb CEO: ‘We’re really popular with retirees right now’

Older Americans are leaning into nomadic lifestyles and finding themselves itching for adventure — especially after a year of coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

While Airbnb (ABNB) started as a scrappy, "affordable alternative to a hotel," it's appealing to older individuals and families, who are looking for ways to spend their later years, according to CEO Brian Chesky. 

"Airbnb is very popular among retirees," he told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday, while acknowledging the 13-year-old brand is typically associated with young people. "Airbnb started with young people traveling and then they told their parents and grandparents. And we're actually really, really popular with retirees right now. And I think they're probably booking these unique properties as much as anyone."

In February, the AARP's annual travel trends survey found that 54% of Baby Boomers (those age 56-74) planned to travel in 2021 despite concerns over COVID-19. With over 4 million people hosting 5.6 million listings worldwide, Airbnb has become the de facto search engine for unique getaways in unpredictable and remote areas.

"We have millions of properties on Airbnb and we have 160,000-plus unique properties as defined by a treehouse, a boat, a farm stay, an airstream. These are really unique homes where the home becomes the destination. In a world where you're more flexible, where you travel, people aren't just coming and typing, you know, 'New York City' or 'Chicago.'

"They're saying, I'll go anywhere. And sometimes they'll go to New York, Chicago, sometimes they'll say that I'll go to this cool private island. Where is this? I think it's totally changing the paradigm of travel," he said.

Chesky, 39, who started Airbnb with his Rhode Island School of Design classmate and friend during the 2008 financial crisis, acknowledged the work-from-anywhere reality has enticed many working adults and families to find new ways to vacation, as well. The reality of blending business and leisure, or "bleisure," as Barclay analysts called it in a note to clients, is a trend appealing to a wide range of ages.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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