Airbnb rentals prove lucrative

By the numbers

23,700 Airbnb visitors

4.7 Average stay in days

410 Registered Airbnb hosts

630 Listed Airbnb properties

53 Average host age

18,800 Dollars median revenue per host

Airbnb hosts each made about $18,800 each last year, figures released by the vacation rental website have revealed.

The company announced that 23,700 people booked vacation rentals in Bermuda through the online service in 2018.

A spokesman added the island now has 410 registered Airbnb hosts, with 630 active listings across the island, and that hosts received a median income, the midpoint figure, of $18,800.

Stephen Caton, who has had a property on Airbnb since 2012, said that the growing number of hosts may cause a problem for some hosts in the off-season months.

Mr Caton added: “The BTA is trying to change that, but with so many properties on the market right now, there’s going to be some seasonality. We have been pretty good.

“We are certainly lighter in the short months, but we are still filling more than half of our bed nights.”

Mr Caton said that he first got involved with Airbnb because he had a vacant unit he wanted to fill. He added that he had enjoyed the experience of meeting visitors to Bermuda.

Mr Caton said: “It’s probably the most enjoyable part. My family and I enjoy being able to interact with our guests.”

Maria McLeod, also an Airbnb host, said that people who treated their guests well and get positive reviews should do well despite increased competition for visitors. She added: “We are self-regulated by guest reviews, so the people who try hard and have clean nice apartments will always do well.”

Ms McLeod, who has run her family’s tourist rental business for more than seven years, moved all the properties on to Airbnb four years ago.

She said many property owners had opted for Airbnb because it provided flexibility they did not get with a full-time rental.

Ms McLeod explained: “We use ours for friends and family when they visit. As a landlord, your guests are verified and vetted and you don’t have to handle money, Airbnb puts it in to your account.

“We have had very positive experiences and so have all of the hosts that I know.”

Ms McLeod said that the Government had to be careful about taxation of the sector to allow it to continue to do well.

She added: “The guests that we have would never have been able to come to Bermuda and stay in a hotel. They are young and adventurous.

“What they spend with us is what it would cost for a hotel room for one night.”

Mike Cranfield of Cranfield’s Property Bermuda said that the Airbnb guest figures were only a part of the vacation rental market.

He added: “If you combine this number with the other hosting services, I think it could almost double.”

Mr Cranfield said the hosts he had worked with all made more than the $18,800 figure given by Airbnb.

However, he warned that quality of service was crucial to continued success.

Mr Cranfield said: “It is all about taking a personal interest in your guests — that is what gets us the return visitors.

“Pricing is also key and, while hotels offer discounts in the off-season, we are still receiving visitors that don’t want to stay in the hotels even in the off-season.

“Airbnb visitors perceive that they are getting a more relaxed location, one with fewer restrictions, one with a host who will give them good advice on things to do and places to visit. Price is not the most important thing.”

Mr Cranfield added he had not noticed a decline in bookings with the higher number of hosts, although he agreed there was a decline in guests in winter months.

Airbnb earlier said it hoped to increase the number of visitors and promised more promotion of Bermuda through a partnership with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

A spokesman for Airbnb added that the agreement, signed in October, started last month with a campaign across Airbnb’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, reaching millions of Airbnb’s followers on social media.

Jeanne Salvanès, Airbnb brand marketer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “We are hoping that by featuring Bermuda on our brand channels, we will drive a lot of travel inspiration — and eventually trips to the destination.”

The booking service said it planned to highlight Bermuda on the Airbnb Experiences website, where island businesspeople will also be able to promote their crafts, food, activities and insider tips. Bermuda will be the fourth country in the region to be included in the Experiences platform after Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.

Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said: “Now that the term vacation rentals is enshrined in law and the Government has proportionate regulatory mechanisms in place, the next phases of the partnership are taking flight.”

Mr Dallas predicted the Airbnb online Bermuda blitz and Airbnb Experiences promotion would boost business still further. He said: “These two steps will help Bermuda’s vacation rental property owners and local experience providers win a larger share of the enormously important, constantly evolving, experiential travel market.”

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Published Jan 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 23, 2019 at 12:04 pm)

Airbnb rentals prove lucrative

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