Airbnb Inc. posted sharply higher guest arrivals and host revenue on Long Island in the first quarter of 2017, continuing momentum from the prior year.
The increases come as the hotel industry seeks to blunt gains by Airbnb and other home-sharing services, and both sides engage in a lobbying and public relations battle.
San Francisco-based Airbnb reported a 55 percent increase in Long Island guest arrivals to 6,500 compared with the 2016 quarter. The payout to Long Island hosts totaled $1.2 million, a 41 percent year-over-year increase for the period ended March 31.
The first quarter is traditionally a slow season for home sharing on Long Island, accounting for the quarter’s relatively low numbers compared with the guests (74,000) and host revenue ($25 million) for the full year 2016. Those 2016 numbers represented increases of 57.4 percent and 60.3 percent over the prior year. Long Island’s peak season comes in the third quarter, according to Airbnb researchers, accounting for more than half of host revenue for the year.
The first-quarter upswing in Long Island business outstripped Airbnb’s gains statewide, according to the company. In New York, first-quarter guest arrivals totaled 390,000, an increase of 26 percent, while the payout to hosts rose 10 percent to $78.9 million.
Hotel groups expressed consternation when asked to comment on Airbnb’s local results. “Though we welcome the practice of true home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, we’ve found that accounts for less than 20 percent of Airbnb’s business,” said Rosanna Maietta, a spokeswoman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, based in Washington. “And we call on Airbnb and short-term rental companies to stop being disingenuous to state and local authorities about their operations’ facilitation of illegal hotels,” she said in the statement.
Airbnb, meanwhile, issued a statement charging the AH&LA of planning “to spread misinformation about our host community in an effort to stop people from sharing their home.”
An internal AH&LA memo posted online Sunday by The New York Times called for a “national narrative that commercial operators are driving” revenue for companies like Airbnb, “testimonials of consumer harm” resulting from short-term rentals, and efforts to push local, state and federal legislation aimed at regulating the home-sharing market.
Ken Walles, president of the Long Island Hospitality and Leisure Association, which represents the region’s lodging industry, agreed that the emergence of home sharing is hurting the hotel and motel business.
“How do we compete?” he said.
At the same time, he said, political support is building for an increase in the 3 percent hotel and motel occupancy tax in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“The counties are holding a gun to our heads,” he said.