While Airbnb’s work with cities typically receives the most attention, our growth beyond cities is also surging. A new report finds that since 2012, active Airbnb hosts have increased in US rural areas by 1,800 percent. In the past year, rural host income has approached half a billion dollars: $494 million, from February 1, 2016 through February 1 of this year. Considerably more of Airbnb hosts in rural America are women than men, and rural hosts are also considerably older on average than city hosts.
Even as these less populated areas of the US struggle with record-low mobility and other lingering effects of the Great Recession, their technological future seems more fraught than positive as jobs in sectors such as manufacturing, energy and mining—and eventually, trucking—gradually get automated, while funding for startups and entrepreneurship increasingly flows to cities.
Airbnb, in contrast, is a technology platform that empowers people rather than displacing them. Airbnb hosts keep 97 percent of the listing price, and up to 50 percent of US guest spending occurs in the neighborhoods where they stay. At a time when interest in travel and tourism is growing, passing 10 percent of global GDP in 2017, we believe home sharing can help rural communities benefit directly from the tourism boom, rather than keeping the growing profits in the hands of corporate hotel chains that have been disinclined to build in many of these areas, anyway. While nearly one in five—18.4 percent—of active Airbnb listings nationally are now located in rural areas, just 12.5 percent of hotel rooms are. In 43 states, Airbnb’s share of supply (i.e., active listings) is greater than hotels’ share of supply (i.e., rooms).
Among other key findings of the Beyond Cities US report:
- Every state has seen at least 60-percent year-over-year growth in rural guest arrivals; rural regions in 41 states have seen at least 100-percent year-over-year growth, and 9 states have seen at least 200-percent growth. While regions known for their resort areas and national parks have the highest percentages of hosts in rural areas, the Midwest and South are seeing the fastest growth.
- The typical rural Airbnb host earns as much as the typical urban host: the median annual earnings for a rural host in the past year were $6,776, while urban hosts earned a median of $6,674.
- Airbnb helps our community leverage growing interest in travel to ease income inequality, including for demographics that may face fewer traditional opportunities to earn. The average age of Airbnb US rural hosts is 48; the average age of Airbnb US urban hosts is 42. In 13 states, the average rural host age is over 50.
Women account for a higher percentage of hosts in rural areas than in urban areas: 62 percent to 56 percent. This is also the highest share of rural women hosts for any of the 11 countries recently studied by Airbnb. In eight American states, two-thirds or more of rural hosts are women: Wyoming (69 percent); Alaska and Maine (67 percent); and Ohio, Missouri, Maryland, Washington and Montana (66 percent).