More people in the Twin Cities are opening their homes to overnight guests — but it’s still a relatively shy place.
Airbnb, the app-driven service that lets people list their homes for short-term lodging, revealed last week that 600 people in Minneapolis hosted 33,400 guests in the year that ended June 30.
That was more than twice the number of people who used Airbnb to stay in the city the previous year. It’s also well above Airbnb’s national average for usage growth.
But Midwestern cities are in catch-up mode with what’s known as the home-sharing economy. They are working from smaller bases in the number of hosts and are now seeing faster growth rates than cities, chiefly on the coasts, where there are more people willing to rent out a portion of their home for short-term stays.
Among the 14 largest home-sharing cities in the Midwest, every market has experienced at least 90 percent growth in guests. Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Columbus saw the number of guest stays more than triple, the company said.
“When people look at home-sharing economy you hear about coastal cities like Los Angeles and New York City, but it’s right here in the heartland where growth has been the strongest,” said Ben Breit, a Midwest spokesman for Airbnb.
The data track cities because that’s where the bulk of the listing are. The company did not release information for the Twin Cities suburbs. St. Paul had 200 hosts and 6,400 guests — a 107-percent increase over the previous year.
When it comes to the number of hosts, Minneapolis pales in comparison to much-larger cities like Chicago, which had 5,000. Minneapolis is also slightly behind some comparably-sized Midwestern cities like Cleveland, which had nearly 1,200 hosts.
When compared with the number of hotel rooms in the city, however, Minneapolis appears to have a fairly typical number of Airbnb offerings. Ian McHenry, the co-founder and CEO of Beyond Pricing, said that he’s tracked about 9,000 hotel rooms and 1,300 Airbnb listings in Minneapolis, a ratio that he said is consistent with the national average.
“There are a lot are secondary markets that are just now catching on to this,” McHenry said. “Anecdotally, if you talk with a friend in New York, they’re more likely to have heard of Airbnb than a friend who’s out there in Columbus or Milwaukee.”
That’s likely to change, especially in Minneapolis, which is hosting the 2018 Super Bowl.
Christopher Nulty, a spokesperson for Airbnb, said that while the event is still two years away, he expects to see a spike in the number of listings as people prepare for the tens of thousands of visitors expected at that event.
He said that in other cities that have hosted major events that created demand for short-term lodging, Airbnb worked proactively with city leaders to create rules and regulations. For example, when Cleveland’s Airbnb hosts had 1,900 guests for the Republican National Convention in July, the company worked with Cuyahoga County lawmakers to collect occupancy taxes.