Memorial Day has long marked the beginning of the summer tourist season, and if Airbnb statistics are any indication, summer is about to begin.
The global online marketplace is reporting this weekend will be the biggest ever for Airbnb guest arrivals in Rehoboth Beach. In total, according to a press release May 15, Airbnb is expecting approximately 900 guests, generating about $155,000 in extra income for hosts, over the three-day holiday.
Liz DeBold Fusco, Airbnb northeast press secretary, said May 16 the record-setting number of bookings for Airbnb continues a multi-year trend for the company. She said last Memorial Day weekend the number of guests expected in Rehoboth was 820, which was also a record.
Fusco said these numbers don’t count guests booked in the Rehoboth ZIP code – 19971 – but who are actually staying in Sussex County. These statistics represent what are traditionally thought of as Rehoboth’s city boundaries, she said.
The majority of guests report they are 30 to 49 years old, suggesting, said Fusco, that many guests are young families or young couples. She said 11 percent of guest arrivals report being families.
The Interstate 95 corridor will be well represented this weekend. The press release states the top reported origin cities for guests are Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; New York City; Baltimore; and Newark. That said, guests report that they are from a total of 23 states and 121 cities around the world.
Fusco said money generated by guests is for accommodations; it doesn’t account for money spent by the guests at local stores and restaurants. She said guest surveys show across the country an average of $160 a day per guest spent, with nearly 50 percent of that being spent within the immediate neighborhood.
Sharon Palmer, RE/MAX Realty Group Rehoboth rental agent, sits on the Sussex County Association of Realtors Rental Affairs Committee. She described the upcoming weekend as decent, but nothing earth-shattering. She said this time of year, with a lot of children still in school, the families don’t rent the long-term house rentals that get scooped up once school gets out.
Memorial Day weekend tends to be the first official stay at the beach for the summer, which, said Palmer, means the weekend renters are here to party and raise hell. It would be interesting to see how things all worked out the following Tuesday, she said.
Palmer said guests tend to think they’re saving money by using Airbnb and other online marketplaces, but, she said, they’re not. The renters are paying the same prices they’d pay when going through a local agent, but there’s a couple hundred dollar mark-up because the online services need their piece of the pie too.
Palmer said for property owners, the local agents can do a better job vetting potential renters. For renters, there are more options available from the local agents, so if one property is booked, Palmer said, the agents know where other options are.
Additionally, said Palmer, the local agents are close by, so if there’s a problem for either party – renter or rentee – it can be handled much more efficiently.
In response to local-agent comments, Fusco said Airbnb has always taken the approach that there’s a place for everyone in the local vacation rental marketplace. It was strong long before Airbnb, and it will continue to be, she said.
Fusco said it’s too early to tell how the rest of the summer will play out in terms of guest statistics, but she was confident the trend will continue.
“I imagine if we were to checkback at Fourth of July, and then again around Labor Day, the statistics will still show record-setting numbers around those holidays too,” said Fusco.