Why Airbnb can’t crack Las Vegas
Las Vegas is an easy place to abbreviate. Mention Sin City and it instantly conjures up lasting imagery: think Celine vs. Britney, mini-skirted cocktail waitresses, parties by the pool, the Strip, or the Strip, morning after regret. What rarely worries you about this vacation spot? Oddly, the biggest hotel trend of recent years: Airbnb.
No wonder, 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 deny such permits to any new Airbnb within 660 feet of any existing listing. Then, in June, Sin City Council decided to sue limit Airbnb’s bandwidth. He announced that future hosts must now spend an additional $ 1,030 for a Special Use Permit; if a home has five or more bedrooms, homeowners should 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 tipster line so nosy noses can report on the loud ones. (Nearby North Las Vegas does not have any of these rental rules.)
Obviously, Las Vegas is aiming to quell the enthusiasm for renting homes out there. “Can you blame them? The city owes everything to the hotel industry, ”says Jason Clampet, co-founder of travel consulting firm Skift. “Think about the jobs, pensions, retirement accounts and residential neighborhoods that exist because of the industry. Why jeopardize real jobs that earn real wages to appease a Silicon Valley company where every guest is an independent contractor who can be knocked out on a whim? “
Industry insiders suggest the restrictions are working. “[Airbnb is] not even something that I consider a Las Vegas presence. I haven’t noticed any change in our demand or extreme customer distancing, ”says Colleen Birch, Senior Vice President of Revenue at
Think about the jobs, pensions, retirement accounts and residential neighborhoods that are there because of [hotel] industry.
But could Airbnb and its ilk really pose an existential threat to hotels here? Current data suggests Birch’s trust is well placed. Airbnb has not captured the market or share of mind in Las Vegas in the same way as in tourist centers like new York, Paris Where London—By industry figures, 340,000 visitors used the platform for overnight stays in 2016 across the state of Nevada. At first glance, that seems like a huge number, of course, but paltry compared to the total number of Airbnb visitors: 42.9 million. It’s not even one percent.
A major reason, at least according to Vegas magazine editor Andrea Bennett Gardner, is the lopsided nature of Las Vegas’ allure: it’s confined almost entirely to a four-mile-long attraction. “The Strip is the epicenter of everything that happens here, and even for people who have been there multiple times, it is 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 stealthy listings of condominiums in resorts on the Airbnb site, but naturally hotels want to crack down on such sublets.
It’s not just regulations or neighbors’ complaints that have cut home rentals for singles or birthdays, says Bennett Gardner. “You can get such advantageous group rates [at hotels] now. Why wouldn’t you stay in a hotel in the center of everything when you can get a room for under $ 100 a night, and have pools, restaurants, and whatever else you need right there? Also consider the loyalty programs run by hotels on the Strip, including MGM M Life or Harrah’s Total rewards. They are both generous and straddle multiple properties making it easy to gain status, so even semi-regular visitors can grab some attractive offers and bonuses to sweeten their next stay.
Are Airbnbs Better Than Hotels?
The colocation monolith and the hotel industry are put to the test in this editors’ debate.
Clampet also doesn’t see housing sharing having an impact on Sin City hotels anytime soon. “Vegas is a city of closed, well air-conditioned places that are fueled by large conferences and smaller gatherings of people who just want to have a good time with as little hassle as possible. It’s not Airbnb’s bread and butter, ”he continues. “Airbnb does a good job of creating a story of places that others don’t see. If they can do it here, maybe they will be more successful.
Claire Sinclair is a superhost and one of the few people with multiple Airbnb licenses in Clark County, all thanks to her distinctive approach near the tourist hub of Vegas. The old one Playboy Playmate of the year headlining the burlesque show Display on the Strip for several years, until it closed in March. She had already prepared her next act, however, and it was one that took inspiration from her favorite hotel. “I have always liked the Madonna’s Inn [in San Luis Obispo] and I have been going there on vacation every year since I was 16. I was hoping that one day I might have the opportunity to do something like that, ”explains the model, now 26 years old. So Sinclair put his life savings into a complex, modernist downtown apartment with the goal of turning it into a kitsch and quirky crashpad with the help of his DIY avid bartender boyfriend, Jon Crowder. Together the pair now run Clairbnb; it has five individually themed rooms, with two more planned. Sinclair’s hands-on approach was probably what won over cautious neighbors, spending five months knocking on their doors explaining his plans and asking for help, ginger buds in hand. “I was nervous as hell – downtown Vegas is full of colorful characters – but they were so excited,” she explains.
The 700 square foot units are intended for couples rather than groups; the Beauty and the Beast bedroom is anchored in a huge four-poster bed, while all that the 1970s bachelor pad with avocado walls lacks is a wardrobe lined with polyester rockets. Sinclair and Crowder test each room for a week before welcoming guests and offering thoughtful touches like free snack foods. The couple’s practical enthusiasm differentiates the ads from both the generic lodgings offered by absent owners and the anonymity of a mega hotel. Sinclair has ambitious plans for the hosting world, thanks to a potential investor who wants to export her concept to other cities, but she is determined not to change her Airbnb MO. Try to do this in a hotel with 3,000 rooms.
Originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler