It’s no question that Airbnb has grown rapidly since 2008. As of 2018, there were 5 million listings in 191 countries. As the platform becomes more and more lucrative, many have questioned how Airbnb impacts communities. After all, the concept of the sharing economy is pretty new. Apps like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft have changed markets forever.
So how has Airbnb affected Ottawa communities? What impact has the service had on our local economy?
Our Commitment to Supporting Local
At Short and Suite BNB we believe in supporting our community and local businesses. With over 150 airbnb properties managed, we’re given many opportunities to support the local economy, and we take every opportunity we can. One of our goals as a company is to make sure that Airbnb in Ottawa is just as beneficial to the whole community as it is to hosts.
We’ve committed to making conscious purchasing decisions with small businesses in mind. We support local whenever we can.
For example, all of our cleaning supplies are bought locally. Our toilet paper, soap, shampoo, garbage bags, kleenex.. All supplied by Industrial Cleaning Supplies, an Ottawa-based business on Preston Street.
Then, whenever we need anything like garbage cans, brooms, paint, or tools, we head into Preston Hardware, a staple in our new Little Italy neighbourhood. With such a large number of properties in our portfolio, you can only imagine what that looks like.
But these are just some examples of how we buy, and we’ll avoid big box stores whenever possible. Our business has its roots in Ottawa, a city we love – and we want to support other business owners in this city.
And then of course, there’s our partners program. With this program, we’ve partnered with local Ottawa businesses to offer guest perks. Here’s how it works: we partner with a local business we love. Then, we offer our guests special discounts and offers at those businesses. This helps these local enterprises to bring in new customers and benefit from tourists.
The partners program exposes local tourists to small businesses that they may not have otherwise frequented. Some of our partners include coffee shops (Equator Coffee Roasters, Morning Owl), restaurants (Zak’s Diner, Metropolitan Brasserie), boutiques (Milk Shop) and more. Our list of partners is always growing.
We’re proud to support these local businesses and we’re committed to continuing our engagement in the community even as we grow.
As a local business we strive to be involved in our community and create positive change through.
We donate bi-monthly care baskets to Cornerstone Housing for Women, a local organization that provides women with emergency shelter and safe supportive housing.
We also prepare lunches for Ottawa Community Housing on a monthly basis.
We’ve recently partnered with Joe Mamma Cycles in the Glebe to launch our cycling program. Keep an eye out for our employees out on the streets of Ottawa on Short and Suite bicycles! This initiative allows us to lessen our environmental footprint and reduce contribution to pollution in the city.
How Airbnb has changed Travel
Airbnb and Accessible Travel
There’s no doubt that Airbnb has made travel accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to go on vacation. By offering less expensive alternatives to traditional hotels, people who may not have had the budget to vacation are travelling more – leading to more tourist spending. Many of these travellers are young professionals, who spend their time in new cities frequenting trendy restaurants, galleries, bars and shops.
Yes, this sudden shift in the way our guests are choosing to travel has had an effect on the hotel industry. In a paper prepared by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, it was found that hotels would have made 1.5% more in revenue had it not been for Airbnb. But, between 42% and 63% of those bookings would not have even taken place had it not been for the platform.
What this means is that some of the people who are using Airbnb wouldn’t be able to stay in a hotel, and wouldn’t be able to travel. But now they are, and now they’re contributing to the tourist economy. With all of the economic benefits, there’s no denying that Airbnb has had an overall positive aspect on tourism.
How and Where We Travel
Has Airbnb changed the way we travel and spend, or just adapted to it?
Airbnb’s economic impact assessment found that 91% of travellers want to live like locals – these guests are seeking out specific neighbourhoods, moving away from the main hotel districts. This falls in line with what we see with our guests – they’re looking for specific boroughs to stay in and they want the real Ottawa experience.
Take Hintonburg for example. The bustling neighbourhood is popular among Airbnb guests who are looking to frequent and support local businesses and get the “authentic” Ottawa experience. They’re choosing mom and pop shops and local eateries over big box stores and chains, and the local economy (and community) is reaping the benefits. Our guests are interested in feeling like they are part of this community and they’re seeking out local experiences.
We’re seeing tourists spread out in a way they weren’t before. And it’s paying off.
Instead of being confined to one bustling section of the city, they’re visiting and contributing to vibrant communities and spending at local businesses. Now, small businesses that weren’t benefitting from tourists before are now getting more foot traffic.
On top of seeking out and contributing to vibrant communities, travellers who use Airbnb are more likely to stay in the city they’re visiting for longer. While typical tourists stay an average of 2.8 nights, Airbnb guests typically stay an average of 5 nights. To top it off, they spend more. They’re spending and average of $978 per trip – that’s a large contrast to the $669 average spent by typical tourists. And Airbnb guests are spending 50% of their trip on average in the neighbourhoods where they stay, frequenting local enterprises and mom and pop shops.
Some have argued that Airbnb negatively affects the housing market by driving up housing costs because Airbnb hosts are buying properties that are used only for short term rental. It’s a valid concern – after all, we want accessible housing and strong communities.
However, studies show differently. It turns out that only 18% share homes in which they don’t live. The rest are renting out the homes they already live in.
Often, this is a way for hosts to supplement their income. Hosting helps them make ends meet. 50% of hosts are moderate to low income. And when surveyed, 47% of hosts said that Airbnb hosting helped them afford to stay in their homes.
The platform has allowed Canadians to benefit from supplemental income that allows them a living wage and a better overall quality of life.
What That Means for Short and Suite
We’ve seen the results of these impact studies reflected in the way travellers visit with us. As a result Little Italy, Hintonburg, Chinatown and the Glebe have become popular areas that have benefitted from Airbnb tourists.
As the platform grows and more and more travellers begin using Airbnb, we’re committed to staying up-to-date with the latest research and information, and continuing to educate hosts about running responsible Airbnb properties. We believe that every host is responsible for the way they impact their communities and the local economy, and we take those responsibilities seriously.
If you’re interested in learning more about Airbnb in Ottawa, please contact us.