Why Your Next Airbnb Might Have a Pickleball Court
Addison Seale runs a luxury Airbnb Inc. listing near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, a short-term rental market that has boomed during the pandemic as people fled cramped towns in search of outdoor space. The house is stylish — a three-bedroom, one-story concrete house with a deck, hot tub, small above-ground pool, and stunning desert views. But to set the house apart from the 1,200 other rentals in the area, Seale, 25, and her fiancé decided against installing an in-ground pool and opted for a pickleball court instead.
“Compared to installing a swimming pool, it was extremely cheap because it’s a concrete slab they had to finish and lay the lines,” she said. “We really wanted something that we could use and stand out.”
The Seale property is one of nearly 1,300 short-term rentals on Expedia Group Inc.’s Airbnb and Vrbo that mention pickleball in their listing title or description, according to industry data provider AirDNA. The number of citations increased by 32% compared to 2019.
Read more: Why older people love pickleball so much
Although the number of residences with pickleball courts is still small compared to the more than 8 million listings combined for Airbnb and Vrbo, having homes that will attract customers helps businesses compete with hotels. After two years of Covid shutdowns, tour operators have seen a boom in demand, with second-quarter revenue beating analysts’ expectations. But shares of Airbnb and Expedia are down around 37% and 48%, respectively, this year, with analysts expecting travel to decline towards the end of 2022 amid high inflation and uncertain economic outlook. Property listings that mention pickleball have shrunk by about 200 this year, likely due to weaker demand for popular sites near mountain and lakeside getaways, AirDNA said.
Pickleball– played with a wide, hollow plastic ball – feels like a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong. Players can compete in singles or doubles on a chalk-marked field or even lane. All you need is a lightweight, inexpensive net and paddles, making the game easily accessible to most people. The sport’s popularity has skyrocketed recently, increasing 39% over the past two years to 4.8 million players, according to research by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a global trade group for sports and fitness brands. Players between the ages of 18 and 34 make up nearly 29% of the total number of players, but among serious pickleball fans, those who play eight or more times a year, almost a third are 65 or older.
Advertising the benefits of pickleball can help short-term rental hosts get noticed amid a flood of new properties that have popped up since the pandemic. The demand for housing has increased as people take advantage of flexible work options. More and more guests are looking for stays of a month or more, and many are bringing their whole family in search of a space to combine work and play. According to Airbnb, the top amenities people are looking for are home offices, fast Wi-Fi, backyards, and pet-friendly homes.
The San Francisco-based company said it doesn’t track pickleball searches, but notes that travelers say amenities are a top priority for a good trip, especially when guests book for longer stays. In a blog post for hosts, Airbnb advises, “Carefully furnishing your listing and adding popular amenities to your listing will help you stand out from the crowd.” One host on the site suggested that other hosts “write your listing to invite people who like and appreciate the same things you do”.
That’s what Mike and Barbara Burch did. Residents of Sedona, Arizona converted a guesthouse on their property to an Airbnb listing and set up a pickleball court in September 2020 after playing in their church gym before the pandemic. It’s been a draw for bookings, and the couple, who describe themselves as “very active seniors”, find new play partners when their guests take the paddles.
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“I have a lot of people who will say, ‘I saw you had a pickleball court and that’s what brought me to your site,'” Barbara Burch said. who have no physical ability.”
Pickleball players in the United States are concentrated on the coasts, with more than one million players from Florida to Washington, D.C., and more than 750,000 players on the West Coast, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry report. Association. But tournaments are taking place all over the country, including one in Sacramento, Calif., in late September that offers a $40,000 prize. This means that travelers might be looking for a pickleball-friendly place to stay during competition or to keep in shape while on vacation. St. George, Utah has the most pickleball-related rental listings in the United States, with more than 100, followed by the Florida cities of St. Petersburg, Panama City Beach and Naples, according to AirDNA.
Like Lake Tahoe and Joshua Tree, Arizona has seen a boom in the popularity of short-term rentals during the pandemic, as well as a boiling housing market. Short-term listings in Phoenix rose 46% in August from a year ago, according to AirDNA. While many people have flocked to the sunny, dry destinations as the ideal place to weather the pandemic and work from home, not everyone wants to just laze by the pool after a day of video calls or during a family trip.
“If you go to a place like Arizona, you’re going to lay by the pool,” said Sarah Bradford, former vacation rental manager and self-proclaimed pickleball fanatic. “A family is tired of playing in the pool after an hour. You need activities; You’re on vacation.”
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