Real Estate

Demand For ‘Unique’ Short-Term Rentals Is Spiking

Searches for certain types of unique homes have exploded by more than 1,000 percent compared to just two years ago, according to Airbnb.

Airbnb hosts offering “unique stays” — the company’s term for out-of-the-ordinary listings such as treehouses, tiny homes and private islands — have earned more than $300 million since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Wednesday.

The company’s short-term rental site lists more than 170,000 such properties — a 30 percent increase from May 2019, according to Airbnb. Last month, Airbnb announced several updates to its platform, including Flexible Destinations, a feature for those who have a set timeframe and budget, but haven’t yet decided on exactly where they want to go. That feature is now live globally and will make planning trips around unique places to stay “a whole lot easier,” the company said in a press release.

Internal company data shows that the number of searches for unique listings grew 94 percent year-to-date through April 30 this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to Airbnb.

“Flexibility is a key trend emerging from the pandemic as people become less tethered and the lines blur between travel, living and working,” the company said in the release.

“[T]ravelers are turning to unique abodes like cabins, tiny homes, and treehouses to break up the monotony of the past year, with the type of stay, not the exact location, becoming the destination.”

The company said 55 percent of its 100 most wishlisted homes in the last year were “unique” and searches for certain types of unique homes — such as yurts, huts and farm stays — have exploded by more than 1,000 percent compared to just two years ago:

  • Yurts (1,701 percent)
  • Islands (1,668 percent)
  • Huts (1,379 percent)
  • Earth houses (1,285 percent)
  • Barns (1,068 percent)
  • Farm stays (1,055 percent)
  • Houseboats (1,015 percent)
  • Tiny homes (791 percent)

“For those interested in hosting their unique stays, we expect a travel rebound unlike anything we have seen before,” the release said.

The release touted the benefits of Airbnb’s platform to hosts at a time when demand for vacation rental homes is outstripping the number of available hosts in a number of popular U.S. destinations.

Because stays with access to state or national parks are trending up, Airbnb is joining forces with the National Parks Foundation to encourage travelers to enjoy those destinations responsibly, the company said.

“We will be sharing some simple tips on how to stay healthy and preserve natural and historical areas for the enjoyment of all during your next visit,” the release said. “From avoiding overcrowding to minimizing waste through reusable containers and refillable water bottles, learn how to get out and connect with nature and history sustainably when planning your next trip.”

According to Airbnb, here are some of the listings offered by the highest-earning unique stays hosts in the U.S.:

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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