Airbnb has a golden moment at the Rio Olympics

Skift take

Despite all the challenges facing this year’s Summer Games, first and foremost the lack of hotel rooms, the beauty of Airbnb’s flexible sourcing program makes it ideal for major events like the Olympics. .

Deanna Ting, Skift

This year’s Rio Olympics were plagued by a number of challenges: Diving pools suddenly tinged with green. Zika. Traffic jams. Security concerns. Less than stellar accommodation for athletes at the Olympic Village.

But one of the Games’ biggest problems – the lack of hotel rooms in Rio – is being addressed by Airbnb.

As the “official alternative accommodation service” of the Rio Olympics, Airbnb is doing what most hotel companies can’t do as easily or quickly: help accommodate some of the estimated 500,000 visitors who flood the city of Rio de Janeiro for a little over two weeks.

Rio’s reputation for a small number of hotel rooms is not new and, with the Olympics, Games organizers had already booked 90 percent of these existing hotels. When the city won its Olympic bid in 2009, it only had half of the 40,000 hotel beds required by Olympic officials to host the Games. The city now has at least 40,000, but that is still not enough. Notably, the US men’s and women’s basketball teams completely avoid the Athletes’ Village, choose to stay aboard a cruise ship instead of booking hotel rooms, for example.

Because Airbnb’s room supply does not depend on multi-million dollar investments from developers and approval from city building officials, it has been much easier for Airbnb to accommodate around 66. 000 visitors who came to the Games.

That’s a big plus in a country struggling with a crippling recession and political turmoil following the ongoing impeachment of its president this year.

“Instead of building more places, more concrete, that you know, you have a legacy in the city. Occasionally, [with that], you have an underuse [of those hotels] after the Games “, said Leonardo Tristao, national director of Airbnb Brazil CNBC. “Instead, you mobilize the community and have that extra capacity. And then after the Games, things will work out normally.

Rio was already Airbnb’s fourth largest market by number of pre-Games listings and during the Olympics, Airbnb said it has nearly 38,000 listings. These listings are the most reserved, Airbnb said, by visitors to Brazil (50%), followed by the United States, Britain, Argentina and Australia.

Whatever ads Airbnb has right now in Rio, they’re not exactly cheap either. The average nightly rate is $ 206 a night for an Airbnb, which makes Rio more expensive than an Airbnb in Miami or San Francisco, according to a Bloomberg Index assessment on August 3. The average rate per night for hotels in Rio is around $ 242. On August 11, an Airbnb spokesperson said the average nightly rate for one of its listings was now just $ 165 for three guests.

Airbnb estimates that each of its 66,000 guests during the Games will contribute more than $ 25 million in revenue for its Airbnb hosts in Rio, and spend an average of $ 136 per day during their stays.

The idea of ​​using Airbnb arose after the alternative accommodation provider was used all over Brazil during the World Cup. FIFA turned to Airbnb in 2014 and in just a few weeks Airbnb was able to welcome 120,000 visitors to more than 18,000 homes in the city of Rio alone.

Serving as an additional hosting provider for a big event is something that is more or less in Airbnb’s DNA. The company, now valued at $ 30 billion, got its start when its three founders decided to rent three air mattresses in their apartment, located near the Moscone Center in San Francisco. They knew that a big design conference was going to take place and took the opportunity to earn extra money from the attendees.

That Airbnb can more or less increase its offer overnight is a big plus to be able to accommodate a large influx of visitors for major events like the World Cup, the Olympics and, more recently, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. .

This ability to scale dramatically, at no additional cost, is not lost on hotels, which see Airbnb, in some way, undermining their business at city-wide events.

Will Airbnb soon become the “official alternative accommodation service” for other major events in the future? If the Olympics and the World Cup in Brazil have shown it, it is certainly a golden possibility.

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