Airbnb Helping Florida Properties Fill Rooms


If you don’t read Business Observer, you definitely should start. It’s a great source for Florida business news ranging from real estate to local small businesses to big corporations. I just happened across a great article on how Airbnb is helping smaller properties compete with the large hotel chains to fill rooms.

If you haven’t heard of Airbnb or have been out of the loop on the “sharing” economy, let’s give you a short overview. As Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry, so has Airbnb with the hotel industry. Airbnb allows people to list empty rooms in their home, their apartment, or a backyard bungalow for rent. People at first thought the idea was crazy. Who would want to let a stranger rent out a room for a week or two? But the site took off. It’s a huge industry now referred to as the sharing economy. Regular people use their cars as taxis now, and people are turning spare bedrooms into hotel rooms.

Of course, as the taxi industry has fought against Uber and Lyft, so have the large hotels. They hate Airbnb, put simply. Many local governments dislike the service as well, because certain hotel taxes that local governments receive are not brought in by Airbnb stays. Local governments also cite safety issues as a reason to stop Airbnb rentals.

This hasn’t stopped people from using the service. The company is valued at $24 billion and is available in 190 countries.

The Business Observer spoke with owners and agents who have listed rooms and properties on Airbnb. There is the husband and wife pair who list their 4 unit motel. The real estate agent on Sanibel Island who lists vacation properties. (The agent says the 2% service fee and 3% property management fee are much better on Airbnb than competitors that charge more than 10% in fees). Another user of Airbnb is Louise and Edgar Hansen (Hansen is one of the stars of Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel). The couple uses the site to list their 5 unit property in Charlotte County.

I definitely recommend reading the full article. It shows the reach Airbnb has and how it is impacting the rental economy in Florida. For those considering listing a spare room or their empty home in Collier County, it is important to check the legality of doing so. We just wrote a bit about the increase of rental code violations in the area, as the rental of vacation homes for less than 6 months is considered a violation in Collier County.

Rental Revenues
By Traci McMillan Beach

One of the biggest challenges in the tourism industry is getting the word out. Airbnb, designed to bring people to a single website to book unique accommodations worldwide, is addressing that challenge — in a big way. The company, with a $24 billion valuation, is a website and mobile app that allows people to list their property as a short-term rental. Airbnb has a presence in 190 countries.

In Airbnb, just about anyone can be a host. To the Marriotts and Westins, that means anyone can be competition. The battle, without the regulatory controversy, is similar to how Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry.

The Business Observer spoke with several owners and agents who list properties and rooms on the Gulf Coast on Airbnb. Perhaps the biggest lesson shared by all was that through Airbnb, they have an opportunity to compete against the Goliaths. Here’s a glance at how they’ve used Airbnb to become the hospitalty industry’s newest entrepreneurs.

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