Why Airbnb can’t crack Las Vegas

Vegas is an easy place to shorthand. Mention Sin City and it instantly conjures up lasting images: think Celine versus Britney, cocktail waitresses in miniskirts, day-to-night pool parties, the strip or the Strip, morning after regret. What’s rarely on the mind in this vacation hotspot? Curiously, the biggest hotel trend of recent years: Airbnb.

Not surprising, given the strict constraints on Airbnb and co placed here since 2014. These include levying a $500 non-refundable permit application fee on any potential short-term rental operator, limiting overnight guests to 12 or less per property, and even refusing of these permits to any new Airbnb within 660 feet of any existing listing. Then, in June, The city council of Sin has decided to continue limit Airbnb’s bandwidth. He announced that potential hosts must now spend an additional $1,030 for a special use permit; if a home has five or more bedrooms, owners must also keep a licensed security company on call to handle complaints. The council is so keen to see the new laws enforced that it is also preparing a 24-hour tip line so the curious can inform about the loud. (Nearby North Las Vegas has none of these rules on rentals.)

Obviously, Las Vegas is aiming to dampen the enthusiasm for renting homes there. “Can you blame them? The city owes everything to the hospitality industry,” says Jason Clampet, co-founder of travel consultancy Skift. “Think of the jobs, pensions, retirement accounts and residential neighborhoods that exist because of the industry. Why jeopardize real jobs that earn real salaries to appease a Silicon Valley company where every host is an independent contractor who can be eliminated on a whim? »

Industry insiders suggest the restrictions are working. “[Airbnb is] not even something that I would consider a Las Vegas presence. I haven’t noticed a shift in our demand, or an extreme shift in customer base,” says Colleen Birch, senior vice president of revenue at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Think of the jobs, pensions, retirement accounts, and residential neighborhoods that exist because of [hotel] industry.

But could Airbnb and its ilk really pose an existential threat to hotels here? Current data suggests that Birch’s confidence is well placed. Airbnb hasn’t snatched market or spirit share in Las Vegas the same way it has in tourist hubs like New York, Paris or London—figures by industry, 340,000 visitors used the platform to spend the night in 2016 across the state of Nevada. On the surface, that seems like a huge number, sure, but a pittance compared to Airbnb’s total visitor count: 42.9 million. It’s not even a percent.

A major reason, at least according to Vegas magazine editor Andrea Bennett Gardner, is the unbalanced side of Las Vegas’ appeal: it’s confined almost entirely to a four-mile-long attraction. “The Strip is the epicenter of everything here, and even for people who’ve been there many times, it’s constantly changing,” she explains. “The lifespan of a club is so short here, that even for a frequent visitor there will be a few new places the next time you come.” There are a few sneaky listings of condo rooms at resorts on Airbnb’s site, but it’s understandable why hotels are keen to clamp down on these sublets.

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