The hotel industry took aim this week at the evolution of Airbnb, suggesting in a new study the notion of homeowners in Boston using the web platform to share their homes and generate a little side income is rapidly giving way to hosts using the site to build their own commercial businesses.
A study published by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found the number of Airbnb hosts in Boston renting out their entire unit – and in many cases multiple units – grew by 43.4 percent over the past year, with 70 percent of Boston Airbnb revenue, or $88.5 million, coming from entire home rentals.
Revenue generated by hosts with multiple units for rent increased by 137 percent over the past year to a total of almost $35.5 million, with 34 percent of the revenue earned by hosts with 10 or more units.
“They’re taking a more commercial approach to renting out units,” said Jamie Lane, senior economist for CBRE Hotels Americas Research, which conducted the study.
Airbnb disputed the study, which was based on data culled by AirDNA, a service that tracks listings and revenue generated by hosts.
“This misleading, inaccurate report was bought and paid for by the big hotels and is the latest example of the industry’s willingness to say and do anything to protect their record profits, preserve their ability to price gouge consumers and squash their competition,” Airbnb spokeswoman Crystal Davis said in a statement. “As the AHLA already knows, many of their member inns, motels and hotels list rooms on our platform, so these are included in the very data on ‘commercial’ listings the big hotels seem so concerned about.”
Davis also said Airbnb’s own statistics refute the study’s conclusion that the number of hosts renting multiple, entire-home units grew by almost 67 percent last year to 470. Airbnb claims that there are actually just 190 hosts with two or more entire-home listings.
The research could come into play as Beacon Hill considers how to regulate and tax the short-term rental industry. Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed to apply the state’s hotel and motel tax rate to units rented with the frequency of a “de facto business,” which he defined in legislation as 150 days or more in a single year.
Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, the House chair of the Financial Services Committee, has proposed a more tiered tax structure with a lower threshold of 60 days before hosts would have to start collecting lodging taxes.
Lane said that among the 13 cities studied, the 137 percent increase in revenue generate by multi-unit hosts in Boston was well above the 89 percent average.
The study also showed that while revenue generated from the short-term rental of entire homes through Airbnb more than doubled, revenue to hosts renting rooms in the houses or apartments they also live in grew by a slower 64.6 percent clip.