More than seven months have passed since Airbnb issued its “community compact,” in which the company claimed it would do everything it could to “help ensure our community pays its fair share of hotel and tourist taxes, build an open and transparent community, and promote responsible home sharing to make cities stronger.”
Unfortunately, those objectives have yet to bear fruit. In reality, a significant—and rapidly growing—portion of Airbnb’s revenue in major U.S. cities is driven by commercial operators who often buy up multiple residential properties to rent out in the same metropolitan area or list units available on a full-time basis, just like a hotel.
What’s worse, Airbnb is not being transparent with its data and or acting as the true partner it has vowed to be with government officials to help create safe environments for its users and the communities in which it operates.
While the company, valued at some $25 billion, has a reported 2 million listings worldwide and suggests that its hosts largely use the platform to supplement their income, Airbnb fails to deal with the true picture of what is happening on its platform or release data that provides a complete look at its operations.
In order to get a better picture, we commissioned our own data.
We know from the comprehensive, national analysis released in January by Dr. John O’Neill, professor of hospitality management and director of the Center for Hospitality Real Estate Strategy in the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State University, that the number of individuals listing two or more residential properties for rent on Airbnb is rapidly growing and 40 percent of the company’s revenue in those cities is generated by these multi-unit operators—to the tune of half a billion dollars a year.
What’s more, nearly 26 percent of Airbnb’s revenue in 14 of the nation’s largest cities came from users who listed properties for rent full time (360 days or more each year).