Texas Airbnb hosts earned $115 million in rural counties for 2021

Rural getaways become more popular during the pandemic; hosts cashed in

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (iStock, Getty)
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (iStock, Getty)

Travel habits – and destinations – were changed by the pandemic, with more people favoring the wide-open spaces of rural areas over big cities, a trend that has proved a bonanza to AirBnB operators in Texas and across the country.

Nationally, nights in rural areas booked by U.S. guests grew 110% in 2021 compared with 2019, earning over $3.5 billion last year, according to the company’s data. In Texas alone, where the lodging company is hosting in more rural areas than ever before, those operators earned $115 million in 2021, according to the Dallas Morning News.

“What we saw during the pandemic is that people started to really spread out,” said Sam Randall, a spokesperson for Airbnb. “Instead of traveling to a few destinations, people started to travel to thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of destinations across the world.”

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The trend in renting in rural communities greatly accelerated during the pandemic, according to Randall.

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Some hosts are seeing an opportunity and taking advantage of it, and can potentially use a guest suite or an additional property or second home to earn passive income, Randall said.

Ryan Hand is one such host. He and his husband, Jonathan Conrad, include Airbnb as part of their retirement plan and began hosting in 2019 at Spotted Sheep Farms in the Texas wine country of Fredericksburg.

The property boasts a villa, cabin and farmhouse, and there are sheep, donkeys, and alpacas on the land. It’s been largely popular for couple’s getaways, girls’ weekends, and family stays, Hand said, and Airbnb hosting allows the couple “to continue to have the kind of income and hobbies we want while taking care of everything and being able to enjoy it.”

Last year alone, new Airbnb hosts in the entire state brought in $170 million, the third-highest amount in the nation, with an average Airbnb host in rural Texas earning nearly $12,000 in 2021.

People have booked stays in over 72,000 cities and towns this summer in the U.S., and the company announced a plan earlier this month to crack down on house parties in rentals by blocking one-night reservations from users without any positive reviews on the platform.

[Dallas Morning News] — James Bell