Out of all the spin thrown at us prior to Super Bowl 50's landing in the Bay Area, there was one bit that, on the face of it, seemed possible. The promise, as put by once-mayor and Super Bowl 50 Host Committee member Willie Brown, was that smart San Franciscans would make out like bandits as out-of-towners flocked to the city and we all rented out our places to football-obsessed tourists. It seems, however, that the promise was too good to be true, and many home-rental hosts like perhaps these jokers are finding their listings unanswered and their apartments empty this Super Bowl week.
"Everyone is going to make a killing," Brown wrote in a January 8 Chronicle editorial, "including the private citizens who are smart enough to schedule a vacation paid for by Airbnb’ing their homes."
Brown's argument for why we should just get over ourselves already and welcome the Super Bowl, titled "Stop complaining: S.F. will clean up on the Super Bowl," lists America's Cup (on which San Francisco is estimated to have lost around $12 million) as a positive example we should look toward.
Well, as we all know by now, as non-reimbursed costs related to hosting Super Bowl City continue to grow, perhaps that part of Brown's comparison was actually predictive. Regardless, the good citizens of the Bay Area definitely tried to get a little bit of the sweet Super Bowl juice. A lot of them tried, in fact, and that may have contributed to the problem of unanswered listings.
“This isn’t a windfall for owners,” Beyond Pricing president Ian McHenry told the Chron this week. “There is so much more supply that rates are pretty close to normal.”
Beyond Pricing is a company that attempts to help Airbnb'ers figure out what to charge for their place, and the company's data now shows a high rate of vacancies. This is not just limited to SF, as even Santa Clara homes aren't drawing the attention of Super Bowl visitors to the extent hyped by Super Bowl boosters.
“It’s almost comedic to see all those thousand-dollar-a-night average suburban homes,” McHenry told the paper.
While overall rentals are indeed up, there are so many new listings that the market has been swamped. This means that would-be hosts aren't seeing renters willing to pay increased nightly rates — the average rate is only slightly above normal at $225, notes the Chronicle.
“The moral of the story is: The city’s been hyping this up so much that people will be a little disappointed,” Emily Benkert, the CEO of a Guesthop (a company that manages vacation rentals), explained to the paper.
However, even if hosts had been able to fill their bookings at exorbitant rates as Brown hyped, he misses the larger point that the benefits will go to the select few that can both take a vacation and Airbnb their home out on a whim.
I know that if I personally attempted to follow Brown's advice, I would likely be evicted (listing my place out via Airbnb would violate my lease). I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't have the flexibility San Francisco's 41st mayor assumes is the norm.
Besides, what tourist wants to rent out a first-time Airbnb listing (with no reviews) when there are still vacant Bay Area hotel rooms? And there are indeed, as the Chronicle points out, still vacant hotel rooms for this weekend.
Regardless of the final numbers, there is one clear winner: Airbnb. As noted, the company has seen a massive surge in sign-ups for first-time hosts, host who, unlike the tourists flooding San Francisco this week, aren't heading home to Colorado after the big game.