Who wins at Comic-Con: Airbnb or hotels?
Snatching a coveted badge for the always sold-out Comic-Con isn’t an easy endeavor, but it’s almost equally intimidating to find a hotel room that’s even remotely affordable and doesn’t anywhere near the downtown San Diego convention center.
Enter Airbnb, whose hosts are offering far more homes, condos, apartments and guest rooms this week than last year, even as the average nightly rate for a hotel room over the four days gathering of pop culture has reached its highest level. level yet.
The San Francisco-based home-sharing giant predicts 19,000 guest arrivals at San Diego’s largest convention, a 35% jump from 14,000 last year and about 30% more than that. last four day weekend.
Just as hotels capitalize on the 130,000 comic book fans, superhero junkies and Game of Thrones fanatics that flood the city, so too do roommates, with many increasing their numbers. Usual rates above what one would expect on an otherwise busy July weekend. San Diego.
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While browsing the Airbnb site, it is not uncommon to find advertisements announcing economical rates approaching $ 500 and $ 600 a night for lofts in the heart of Gaslamp or condos a short walk from the convention center, especially in the days leading up to Comic-Con.
Despite this, Airbnb’s average rate on the home-sharing platform remains lower than the average cost of rooms in San Diego hotels by around $ 261, from around $ 70 to $ 100 a night, according to an analysis of San Diego. accommodation reservations at last year’s Comic-Con.
This discount, however, does not appear to hamper Comic-Con’s pricing powers. Hotel rates during the pop culture extravagance rose 14% between 2013 and 2016, according to STR, a research company that tracks hotel performance across the country.
“If Airbnb has a big impact on pricing, we can’t find it in our data,” said Jan Freitag, senior vice president of STR, formerly Smith Travel Research. “Airbnb’s additional offering does not appear to have a noticeable impact on pricing within the local hotel community. For nights when the hotel occupancy rate is above 95%, the average daily rate premium still seems to be what it was before the advent of Airbnb, around 30%. “
Over the past four years, the daily hotel rate during Comic-Con has been between 31% and 37% higher than the previous weekend in July, according to figures from STR. And for Airbnb, rates over the four-day period this month are expected to rise 23% from a week earlier, according to the company.
What’s not as easy to discern from the data analytics is whether hotels would be able to get even higher room rates without the growing presence of Airbnb and other sharing services. Of house.
Hotelier Robert Rauch, who owns and operates 10 hotels in the county, said he noticed over the past two years that he couldn’t get as high a premium during Comic-Con as he once did, even with a high occupancy rate.
“I have seven hotels that are benefiting from Comic-Con and they don’t see the rate difference they’ve seen in previous years as Airbnb is adding inventory,” Rauch said. “Where we could have sold a room for $ 300 a night three years ago, we could sell it now for $ 250, and where before we could be full for four nights, maybe two or three. .
“But Comic-Con is still a big deal and fills up most nights and at a steep price.”
Rising hotel rates have been at the heart of negotiations in recent years to keep Comic-Con in San Diego. Even though organizers pushed the city to expand the convention center, that was not the central issue in a recent three-year deal with Comic-Con International. What Comic-Con demanded was a cap on rate increases for hotels that participate in a discounted block of rooms for the convention.
The published rates for this year’s block hotels range from a low of $ 178 for the Days Inn in Mission Valley to $ 392 for the Hotel del Coronado, which does not include its resort fees. Last minute booking rates for downtown rooms outside the block can reach $ 700 a night or more.
Based on data provided by Airbnb, the average nightly rate charged by its hosts at last year’s Comic-Con was $ 164, compared to $ 261 for hotels in the city of San Diego. The company is forecasting a nightly rate of $ 163 for this week’s conference. STR does not track data on advance reservations.
Airdna, a data analytics company for vacation rental hosts and investors, says a fairer comparison would be to exclude Airbnb’s private and shared rooms and focus on bookings for studios and apartments. ‘one bedroom units.
Based on this algorithm, the average Airbnb rate during Comic-Con this year is $ 188 and for last year $ 193, which is still a saving compared to hotels, Airbnb co-founder said. , Scott Shatford. For all rentals of entire homes, regardless of size, the average this year is $ 322, according to Airdna’s analysis.
“Airbnb tends to keep hotels honest,” he said. “They thrive on those nights when the demand is through the roof. For Mardis Gras, for example, you’ve seen hotel rates drop a bit from what they were before, maybe a 5-10% drop in premium.
“Airbnb works like that kind of overflow faucet and when owners know they can make a pretty dime and rent out their accommodation for an event, they list those venues just for those big events, and we definitely see more of that category. “
In recent months, Airbnb and the accommodation industry have swapped accusations, using competing reports and analysis to attack each other. The US hospitality industry has claimed Airbnb’s business is increasingly dominated by commercial operators leasing multiple units, labeling some as illegal operators. Meanwhile, the home-sharing company argues that the industry’s strategy is to try to reduce the supply of Airbnb listings so that it can rip off consumers during times of high demand.
“One of their main concerns is that Airbnb and other home sharing platforms are impacting their ability to limit supply and drive up prices as Airbnb brings more supply to the market.” said Chris Lehane, head of global policy at Airbnb. “You can see it happening around something like Comic-Con where you can see a pretty big delta between the average Airbnb listing and what a typical hotel costs.
“We’ve always said that people should have the ability to look at what the market is and raise or lower their prices based on a real, honest market that is working there.
Granted, there are a limited number of short-term rental hosts, says Shatford, who will list their homes at what he calls a “make me move” price at expensive events, whether it’s of a Super Bowl or a Comic-Con.
“It’s like you’re willing to pay me a ridiculous price, I’ll pack my bags and move,” he says of the practice. “They are not actively trying to get it booked, but they will move if they can get the price they want.”
Leon Carlucci, whose one-bedroom apartment is just two blocks from the convention center, is asking $ 2,450 for four nights, a significant increase from the $ 1,800 he was able to get at the last Comic -Con. He normally rents his place on Airbnb for $ 200 a night.
“Last year I slept at a friend’s house in Del Mar and cut it down to 10%,” said Carlucci, 31, a federal correctional officer and part-time Uber driver. “Having to go back and forth to Del Mar sucks and the traffic is horrible during Comic-Con, which is why I’m happy to work and live downtown, but if someone is willing to pay $ 600 a night, I’m willing to put up with it.
“People asked me, would you consider $ 250 a night. I said, sorry, this is the center of the universe, the demand is too high.
Like Carlucci, Devra Gregory sharply increased her rate for renting a room in her three-bedroom house in South Park, from $ 50 to $ 70 a night to $ 300. She has since lowered it to $ 225, in hopes of attracting a last-minute guest.
“I know Comic-Con is sold out so I’m not sure if people will wait until the last minute to book accommodation, but I’m holding out,” said Gregory, who works as a Michael Jackson impersonator. I’m surprised I didn’t book mine because I’m in the stadium.
There are still others, like Carol Neidenberg, who increase their rates very little, if at all, during Comic-Con. While she hiked her normal nightly price from $ 85 to just $ 93 last year for a room at her artisan home in University Heights, she’s keeping it the same for next week when she welcomes guests. back going to the Con.
“I don’t want to rip people off,” said Neidenberg, 68. “The people with Comic-Con, they’re serious, they don’t hang out around the house, they don’t take more showers than anyone else, and it’s fun. It’s not my income, just a little extra money.
Main origins of Airbnb guests for Comic-Con 2017
New York City