Commercial hosts take more than 39% of Airbnb profits: study

In New York, 17% of revenue came from operators listing three or more units

TRD New York /
Jan.January 21, 2016 10:09 AM

A new study finds that commercial hosts with multiple listings are raking in more than 39 percent of the profits on Airbnb.

The study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University and funded by a hotel industry group with an Airbnb gripe, found that in a 13-month period, more than $500 million of the $1.3 billion paid by Airbnb customers in 12 cities went to professionals who operated more than one unit.

The report, which relied on scraped data from Airbnb, found that 29 percent of hosts rented out whole units — not private rooms or a living room — for more than 360 days per year.

“Full-time operators represent a small portion of hosts and a large, disproportionate share of revenue,” John O’Neill, one of the report’s authors, and director of the Center for Hospitality Real Estate Strategy at Pennsylvania State University, told Bloomberg. “This isn’t couch surfing or someone periodically renting. This is people running commercial enterprises.”

The study found that the phenomenon was pronounced in New York City, where 17 percent of revenue came from hosts listing three or more units and 32 percent from operators with two or more listings.

Airbnb questioned the integrity of the Penn State study.

“This study shows that the hotel industry gets what it pays for, which in this case is a specious study intended to mislead and manipulate,” said Nick Papas, an Airbnb spokesman.

Critics in New York, including city council members, argue that the $25.5 billion startup drives up rents in the city and threatens its hotel supply.

In October, The Real Deal conducted a back-of-the-envelope analysis on how Airbnb impacts rents in the city and surmised that the service pushes rents up to $69 higher in certain areas of Brooklyn.

The city has the second highest percentage of Airbnb rental units as hotels room nationwide, with units making up 13.9 percent of the total hotel room supply. Nationwide, Airbnb units make up roughly 2 to 4 percent of total hotel room supply. [Bloomberg]Kathryn Brenzel

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