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Pandemic fueling demand for vacation rentals, says Booking Holdings CEO

·1 min read

By Ankit Ajmera

Aug 7 (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic is spurring more travelers to book vacation rentals as they seek safety, the chief executive of online travel agency Booking Holdings said on Friday.

Alternative accommodations, including homes and apartments, made up 40% of all new bookings in the second quarter on Booking.com. In 2019, the business represented about 21% of Booking Holdings revenue.

"The desire of people to be isolated away from other people has accelerated the trend of booking alternative accommodations," Chief Executive Officer Glenn Fogel told Reuters.

Still, Booking Holdings on Thursday reported an 87% drop in its booked room nights for the three months ended June 30, due to the health crisis and related travel restrictions, with overall revenues tumbling to $630 million from $3.85 billion.

Travelers are choosing to stay closer to their home, and are more interested in less urban areas than pre-COVID period, Fogel said.

Fogel expects the shift toward alternative accommodations to continue in the "long run" as people get more comfortable working from home.

"Many people may be taking longer weekends where they won't go to office on a Friday and still do their work from somewhere else," Fogel said.

"A lot of people may find it more attractive to do that from a home than a double occupancy hotel room." (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)