Airbnb launches charm offensive in New York in response to legal troubles

Living space sharing platform Airbnb released a report yesterday to remind people of how much value it is bringing to New York’s economy, and drum up support in its fight against the city’s government.

Airbnb had recently been subpoenaed by the New York Attorney General to hand over data on all its users in New York so the city can crack down on people illegally renting out their homes. Saying the demands were too broad, Airbnb legally filed an objection against the order and is working with lawmakers to modify the law under which so many of its users have been targeted.

In yesterday’s press conference, Airbnb released the findings of a study it had commissioned which measures the economic impact Airbnb has on New York. Here are some of the key points from the study, by HR&A Advisors:

– Airbnb generated $632 million in economic activity in New
York in one year

– 87% of Airbnb hosts rent out the
home they live in, and the typical host earns $7,530 per year

– 62% of Airbnb hosts say Airbnb
helped them stay in their homes

– Airbnb visitors stay on average 6.4
nights (compared to 3.9 for hotel guests) and spend $880 at NYC businesses
(compared to $690 for average New York visitors)

– 82% of Airbnb listings in New York
are outside of the main tourist area of midtown Manhattan, and the average
Airbnb guest spends $740 in the neighborhood where she stays

– In one year, Airbnb generated $104
million in New York City economic activity outside  Manhattan

The most important number is probably the one about 87% of Airbnb hosts being owners of their homes, since it proves Airbnb’s contention that it is a peer-sharing platform, not one used by rental agencies or scams. 

is helping regular New Yorkers in all five boroughs pay their bills by sharing
the home they live in and the city they love with travelers from around the
world,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. “And Airbnb makes it possible for more
people to visit New York, connect with real New Yorkers and spend their money
at local businesses.”

The numbers also support Airbnb’s claim that it is a legitimate money making avenue for a lot of its users, in fact for some it may be the only income they can make. The New York Daily News recently ran an op-ed from an Airbnb user who said rental income from the platform is the only way she can make money to stay afloat since she has a chronic illness.

With the release of this study, Airbnb is hoping to achieve a lot of things at once, including proof of its benefit to New York’s economy as well as its legal status. Getting the law changed in its favor would be a crucial win for the startup, as New York is one of its biggest markets. 



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