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Utah Airbnb hosts book $37 million over summer travel season

Home may be where the heart is, but renting it out on the side appears to be a cash-flow positive hustle for a growing number of Utahns.
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SALT LAKE CITY — Home may be where the heart is, but renting it out on the side appears to be a cash-flow positive hustle for a growing number of Utahns.

According to just-released data, Utah Airbnb operators hauled in some $37.3 million between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.

The company reports Utah residents offering rooms, apartments or houses for short-term rental hosted more than 360,000 guests over the summer and, while Salt Lake County sharers pulled in $8 million over the season, Washington County and Summit County hosts rounded out the top three areas by revenue, generating $5.1 million and $4.4 million respectively.

Laura Spanjian, Airbnb’s senior policy director for Utah, said it was a record summer for those earning extra income through renting out space via the web-based platform.

“The Airbnb community continues generating significant, positive economic impact across Utah,” Spanjian said in a statement. “With more guest arrivals this summer than ever before, hosts and small businesses are receiving an economic boost from this expanded tourism economy and the state is receiving additional tax revenue as a result of this growth.

“As we look ahead to fall, we remain committed to working with communities around the state to ensure short-term rentals continue contributing to the Utah economy.”

The volume of Utah Airbnb guests has grown by nearly 30% over the same period last year.

Scott Beck, president and CEO of convention and visitor group Visit Salt Lake, said Airbnb is playing a critical role in helping accommodate Utah visitors, particularly in the Salt Lake area, where almost half of the state’s tourism income is generated.

“Airbnb has become a very important platform for travelers in today’s world,” Beck said. “It’s a positive for our destination to be flexible and able to grow to meet the needs of our expanding convention business.

“When we have conventions that are continuing to grow their attendance, like DoTerra, which brought 32,000 to Salt Lake City this week ... and haven’t seen any significant growth in downtown hotels, (Airbnb) is a very valuable tool for our guests.”

Airbnb reports the top five destinations for Utah guests over the summer were Salt Lake City, Moab, Park City, Hurricane and St. George. The top five origin cities for travelers booking Airbnb listings in Utah were Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Provo and Orem.

Airbnb launched in 2008 with a service that connects people with a room, apartment or house for rent with guests looking for accommodations, via a web-based digital platform. Property owners, or hosts, can set prices as they choose and Airbnb makes its profits by collecting 3% of hosts’ rental fees and charging guests anywhere from 5 to 15% of their booking.

While Airbnb is a privately held company, based in San Francisco, it has been rumored to be considering entering the public markets via either an initial public stock offering or, as companies like Slack and Spotify have done of late, a direct stock market listing, wherein a company foregoes raising capital as part of the process. The Wall Street Journal recently reported Airbnb was in good financial health, growing at an annual rate over 30% and sitting on some $3.5 billion in cash.