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The rental market swelled exponentially in 2015 as rental owners earned an average salary of $84 an hour. Despite some concerns, the rush for rentals proved a positive force for local communities too as travelers flocked to – and spent more money in – residential neighborhoods outside of city center tourist traps. Here are some of the ways rental portals such as Airbnb and HomeAway have impacted local community economies.

Encourage Travelers to Explore Residential Neighborhoods

Travelers choose vacation rentals because they offer a different experience than hotels. While hotels are often located downtown or in commercial neighborhoods, short term rentals in residential communities provide guests with an authentic, localized experience. Guests can explore a patch of city seldom seen in travel brochures and immerse themselves in local customs and traditions. In Berlin, 80 percent of Airbnb properties are located outside of the city’s main hotel districts, while 82 percent of travelers want to explore a specific neighborhood in the German capital. As more travelers “live like a local,” revenue moves from tourist-heavy hotspots to the suburbs, which has a positive financial impact on residential neighborhoods. According to Airbnb, a huge 45 percent of guest spending occurs in the community where the vacation rental is located.

Not everyone is happy with the way the “sharing economy” operates. In New York, the demand for Airbnb properties in residential neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint have seen local rent prices soar. However, others in the city welcome the changes: the average Airbnb guest will spend $740 in the neighborhood where the short term rental is located.

Renters Contribute to the Local Economy

Tourists who stayed in short term rentals in Los Angeles in 2013 created a total economic activity of $1.4 billion and 12,314 jobs, according to a study. The amount of revenue generated by short term vacation renters wasn’t confined to accommodation: Guests spent $204.4 million on food and beverages, $146 million on ground transportation, $109.5 million on art, entertainment and recreation, and $58.4 million on retail sales in the “City of Angels.”

In an Airbnb case study, 22,450 guests stayed at a rental property in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn over the course of a year, generating $8.4 million to local businesses and $6.1 million to local households. It’s not all positive, though: Some locals say they are being “squeezed out” of their neighborhoods due to the booming rental market.

Renters Spend More Time and Money in Residential Neighborhoods

Short term vacation renters are spending a significant amount of time in local communities. The average business traveler spends 3.8 nights in an Airbnb property compared to only 2.1 nights in a hotel, meaning guests are spending more money during these longer trips. The fact that vacation rentals are often cheaper than hotels indicates that vacation renters have more disposable income when they visit a neighborhood, reshaping the local economy. Vacation rentals are also having an effect on the hotel industry, with demand for Airbnb properties resulting in a decrease in hotel room revenue.

The rise of the rental industry has brought a notable shift in traveling habits, as renters explore residential neighborhoods, contribute to the local economy, and stay in rented properties for longer. Here at Pillow, we help homeowners capitalize on the rental craze by optimizing property listings to boost bookings.

By: Michelle Giuliano

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