This week, millions of people across the US witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event: a total solar eclipse. Travelers from across the globe flocked to cities and towns within the 70 mile-wide “path of totality” extending from South Carolina to Oregon — including 52,000 guests who spent the previous night, August 20, on Airbnb. Hosts in the path of totality earned roughly $11 million in meaningful supplemental income that will help them pay bills, save for a rainy day, or take a vacation themselves.
Top 10 destinations for guest arrivals along path of totality
On average, a total solar eclipse happens in a given location only once every 375 years, which gave way to a unique opportunity for individuals and families traveling to those regions along the path of totality to create a truly memorable, affordable experience using Airbnb.
Many of the cities and towns that were in the direct path of totality are rural communities with few hotels or other traditional hospitality options, but with the growth of Airbnb in these same regions, many eclipse enthusiasts had a way to witness the special event without having to battle long day trips.
Airbnb listings vs. hotels on path of totality
Affordable options for travelers
Airbnb democratizes travel by helping everyday people travel to places they may have missed – including those that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Unfortunately, we read reports of people finding the hotel rooms they had booked several months or years in advance of the solar eclipse had been inexplicably cancelled, or they were told that they would have to pay hundreds of dollars more per night than they were originally quoted. Some states across the country, including Oregon, investigated floods of complaints claiming hotels have cancelled reservations to raise rates.
As an affordable option to see the eclipse, guests from all over the world used Airbnb as a way to find lodging along the path of totality.
Greg Wallace traveled from Australia to Idaho Falls, ID, where he met up with friends to watch the eclipse in a volcanic crater a short drive north of his Airbnb listing. He’s now off to Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and eventually New York City, with stops at several US cities along the way.
For Marie-Anne Huserot, this total eclipse was her second since 1999, when a total solar eclipse passed through the north of France. “It was so amazing that we really wanted to share this with our kids one day,” she says. Along with her husband and two children, the Huserots are spending two weeks traveling through Oregon and Washington, with an Airbnb in Willamina, OR, as their Basel camp for the eclipse.
Hosts across the path of totality
Airbnb is also helping ordinary people turn what is typically their greatest expense, their home, into an economic opportunity and a way to help pay for things like their mortgage or rent, groceries or their children’s education. Many of the hosts who welcomed eclipse viewers have hosted with Airbnb before, but the event opened the opportunity for many new hosts to join the platform, as well. In fact, 49 percent of hosts were first-time hosts nationwide; in Oregon, 88 percent were.
Joan Hurley of Corvallis, Oregon has been an Airbnb host for about four years. “I had a spare room that had been my daughter’s, but after she went to school, it sat empty,” she said. Hurley decided to make use of the unused space to make a little extra income. She put in new floors and various other upgrades to make the space guest ready and began sharing her home with guests from around the world. With a separate entrance and a private bath, Joan’s listing is perfect for travelers looking for a private getaway.
A couple from Kent, Washington stayed in Joan’s listing along the path of totality to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse experience. When the couple caught wind of motel chains in the area canceling reservations on guests, they reached out to confirm their spot. “They contacted me three separate times over the past few weeks to confirm and make sure the reservation was still good and I assured them it is. I would not blame guests at all to be a little bit nervous if that had happened to them,” Joan said.
When guests stay with Joan, she always makes sure to greet them and provide them with a personalized visitor guide with local recommendations. “My guess is they are coming prepared of where they’ll be watching the eclipse, but if they have some free time, I’ve got some recommendations for other things they can do in the area.”
Airbnb hosts earning valuable extra income and keep 97 percent of what they charge. Hosts in the path of totality earned roughly $11 million in meaningful supplemental income that helps many hosts pay bills or save for a rainy day or vacation themselves.
A snapshot of a typical Airbnb host:
In addition to hosting over 52,000 people from across the globe, Airbnb also partnered with National Geographic to offer a once in a lifetime opportunity for one winner and a guest to experience the eclipse from above – in a plane. More on the event can be read here.