What’s the difference between Airbnb hosts and vacation rental owners? Not a lot, reveals a year-long study by Penn State University.
It’s official, Airbnb hosts are no longer just a bunch of people who occasionally rent out a room in their house to make ends meet. As reported by the influential Skift blog, a year-long survey by Penn State University’s School of Hospitality and Management focused on hosts who rented out more than one unit and those who rented out their unit full-time.
Part of the wider sharing economy
This contrasts sharply with the image of hosts, promoted by Airbnb, as being largely people who occasionally rent out rooms as part of a wider sharing economy.
‘We can’t wait until Airbnb goes public so we can finally get some transparency and stop hearing about hosts trying to make ends meet’ says Jason Clampet of Skift. ‘It’s so much more sophisticated than that.’
The report reveals that a small number of hosts who treat Airbnb as a full-time profession are responsible for a disproportionate share of the site’s revenue. Full-time profession? Doesn’t that make them vacation rental owners? Always assuming that they actually own and are not just sub-letting the properties they rent out…
These full-time Airbnb hosts are very significant in terms of the company’s revenue. They generate 28.5 percent of revenue yet they represent 3.3 percent of Airbnb hosts.
Competing for your guests?
If you have ever wondered whether Airbnb hosts posed a threat to established vacation rental owners, here’s the answer. Some could be (or will be in the future) in competition for those guests. According to the study, hosts who rent more than one unit are the fastest growing segment of hosts on the site. The market for Airbnb rooms and properties now overlaps with that of vacation rental owners.
My reservation is while Airbnb battle for control with other giants of the industry, the independence of vacation rental owners who use their services is also being compromised. We’ve recently seen Airbnb criticized over a spate of vacation rentals scams involving properties listed on their site. Earlier, critics felt that the company overstepped the mark by charging guests occupancy taxes and paying this to the relevant authorities over the heads of their hosts.
Short term gain drives Airbnb hosts
The difference between short term rental Airbnb hosts and those like ourselves in the vacation rental business is that they are often looking for short term financial gain while we are in it for the long haul, having invested in our businesses over a period. We are looking to run sustainable businesses built on repeat bookings.
Of course, you can be an Airbnb host and a vacation rental owner. Indeed, many vacation rental owners already list with Airbnb and are happy to do so.
The fact is that Airbnb is so big it can’t be ignored. And it has clear ambitions in the vacation rental market. It may well be a useful channel for marketing your property, but make sure that it’s on your terms.