Peer-to-peer lodging marketplace Airbnb has faced some heat in New York City lately and is seeking to have new laws passed that would legitimize the service in the city. With that in mind, the company has released the findings of an economic study that it hopes will show what a positive impact the service has on the local community and economy.
The study, conducted by HR&A Advisors on its behalf, follows a series of similar economic surveys that the company has had conducted in places like San Francisco and Paris. Like those others, seeks to show that Airbnb hosts overwhelmingly rent their own homes, that many rely on it to pay the bills, and that Airbnb guests end up staying outside the usual tourist traps and contribute to the local economy in more off-the-beaten track neighborhoods.
The headline number is that Airbnb generated $632 million in economic activity in the city over the period of one year, and that helped support more than 4,500 jobs throughout all five boroughs.
But the underlying data is meant to show that the typical Airbnb host isn’t running an online hotel operation — something local regulators are trying to shut down. Instead, the study found that 87 percent of hosts rent out their own homes, and those folks typically generate just more than $7,500 per year.
Based on users surveyed, 62 percent say renting out their homes on the platform helps them stay there, and more than half are what Airbnb calls “non-traditional workers” — those who are freelance, part-time or students. That is, not full-time, salaried employees.
Beyond just the economic impact that Airbnb has for its hosts, the company is also hoping to convince local government and regulators about the support it provides to local community members outside the big tourist areas in the city. The study claims that Airbnb guests tend to stay longer than those who stay in hotels — on average 6.4 nights versus 3.9 nights for hotel guests), and spend more while in the city. It claims that Airbnb guests typically spend $880 at local businesses, rather than $690 for a typical hotel guest.
Visitors staying in Airbnb lodgings also tend to contribute to neighborhoods that tourists usually stay away from. 82 percent of all listings on Airbnb in New York City are outside the usual hotel corridors in midtown Manhattan, and the usual Airbnb guest spends $740 in the neighborhood they stay in.