Airbnb and other short term rental (STR) platforms utilizing the sharing economy previously reported an average stay in major US cities of less than a week prior to COVID-19. New reports, however, are showing a significant jump in stay length. 1 to 6 month rentals are now the norm, with some hosts fully transitioning to long-term bookings.
In a pivot responsive to the times, Airbnb launched new tools to accommodate more long-term stays. These tools- a new onboarding process specifically to help hosts expand listings to long term guests, and changes to the visibility of local listings in search results – come after rumors and anecdotal reports of declining numbers in the STR host supply base. Although a decline was rumored, the data shows only a 3% reduction in Airbnb listings since February, 2020.
Airbnb says these tools, however, will give hosts a chance to provide local accommodation. It claims that 80% of hosts now accept longer terms stays with a discount for stays of one month or more. Looking at a year over year comparison for the same period in April 2019, this year shows a 20% increase in long-stay bookings.
According to Airbnb, “We’re seeing a larger share of Airbnb guests booking accommodation in their own communities for all lengths of stays, whether that be because they require extra space for their families or a quiet place to work.”
Will Parry, COO of European property management company Altido, which has seen an identical trend to the US, says that while longer stays are on the rise he does expect to see stay lengths reduce as restrictions ease. “In our view, it is too early to say whether the pandemic will have a long-term impact on the average length of stay booked via Airbnb.”
However, Airbnb says: “We saw growing demand for this type of stay before the pandemic, and expect to continue seeing demand as we move forward.” As remote work becomes accessible to more of the workforce, the changes associated with becoming location-independent could have a ripple effect across the housing market, and for those with investment properties.