Study finds Airbnb taking five percent of hotel market; multi-unit hosts taking half of revenue

High density living space in Vancouver's Yaletown district.A recent study of Airbnb’s impact on the hotel industry in Canada has concluded that the online booking service is taking 5.1 percent of Metro Vancouver’s hotel revenue and meeting about 5.3 percent of overall demand.

“Our industry is rife with deniers,” says HLT Advisory, a consulting firm that partnered with Ryerson University for the study. “In fact, as recently as Q1 of 2016, one of our competitors told a major Canadian industry association that Airbnb’s impact had been, and was expected to be, negligible. Well…it’s not.

“And the impact in the future is set to increase. Airbnb is neither a product nor a brand, Airbnb is a delivery “channel” and a channel with lots of upside (or downside, depending on your point of view) given the ease with which new supply can be added. Airbnb is the very model of a disruptor.”

Among the other findings of the study, which generally corrorborates much of what has been published elsewhere, Airbnb’s Metro Vancouver listings from July to December last year exceeded 7,000 for all types of accommodation.On average, about 1,121 units are booked every night in Metro Vancouver.

In addition:

  • “entire place” listings accounted for 69 percent of the total;
  • “entire place” listings amounted to 84 percent of revenue; and
  • multi-unit hosts took 54 percent of the revenue.

These numbers do much to undermine the argument that most Airbnb hosts are simply folks using a few rentals as a mortgage helper. The report also notes that commercial Airbnb hosts are getting a big tax break compared to hotels, which pay property tax in Vancouver at twice the rate of residential homeowners.

Tentative agreement with bus drivers signals better days for Translink riders . . . at last

IMG_1135 Joyce Skytrain

The tentative agreement with Translink mechanics and bus drivers is good news.

Translink’s bus drivers, members of Unifor Locals 111 and 2200, will be voting Thursday on a tentative three-year agreement with Translink, the latest sign that the regional transit authority is finally into a stretch of good news.

There are signs the days of “dividing the shortages among the peasants” at Translink are coming to an end:

This is all welcome news for transit riders, who have been facing crowded buses and flat service levels for too long.

Meanwhile, Translink’s bus route changes on the 49 and 26 routes in Champlain Heights are now in effect, a reminder that effective community organizing can produce positive changes.

The 49 changes, first proposed in 2014, were opposed by the community because they risked losing a direct Skytrain connection in their transit-oriented neighbourhood. It was all part of “service optimization,” Translink’s efforts to make the most of limited service when funding was not increasing.

The proposal was withdrawn, in the wake of a motion I took to city council, and the latest version is much better, although still an adjustment for riders in a community where regular bus service was part of the original plan.

The new arrangement shortens the ride for thousands of riders headed west to UBC, all of whom could take the Broadway subway once the 10-year plan is fully-funded and implemented.

City invites public input on Airbnb rules as number of city online listings breaks 5,000

Short-term rentals are having an impact in rental and strata buildings.

Short-term rentals are having an impact in rental and strata buildings.

Vancouver residents are being invited to weigh in on how the city should regulate short-term online rentals like Airbnb when a new online survey begins July 20 at

This is one issue where foreign ownership should not be factor – clearly, most of the city’s more than 5,000 listings are being put out there by city owners and residents.

Information released this week both by the city and by Airbnb point to a dramatic escalation in short-term rentals since 2013, particularly in neighbourhoods like Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant, where affordable rental stock is at a premium.

City manager Sadhu Johnson summarized the latest analysis completed by an independent consultant in a memo to council. The key findings: listings now exceed 5,000 units, 85 percent are with Airbnb and neighbourhoods close to downtown are most impacted.

The results of the online survey will be combined with other city analysis for a report to council in September. Then a second round of consultation will occur before a council decision by the end of the year.


City action on Airbnb, other online booking platforms, to come to council in September

rentVancouver city staff will be coming to council in September with proposed actions to regulate online booking platforms like Airbnb, according to a memorandum to council released today.

The report to council will trigger a comprehensive consultation before council takes steps to regulate the online agencies, whose bookings seem to be skyrocketing at the expense of long-term rental stock.

The news comes in the wake of a unanimous council vote in favour of my motion to call on Victoria to extend existing tax policies regarding the collection of hotel and provincial sales taxes to online booking platforms.

The memo from Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, general manager of community services, says Airbnb will be releasing an analysis of its own data on Vancouver-area bookings as early as next week.

Vancouver staff have already been in touch with their counterparts in a number of other cities to see how their regulations are unfolding. In New York and San Francisco, Airbnb is suing city administrations to turn back new rules requiring Airbnb to ensure its hosts are appropriately registered..