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Area residents cash in on Airbnb

December 27, 2018

Emily Bayer lists her apartment on Airbnb as a “hip, petite Downtown retreat.” 

The 37-year-old first heard of Airbnb six years ago while attending graduate school in New Orleans. One of her friends was a host, and Bayer considered doing it herself.

Fast forward to 2016, she began listing her downtown retreat as Casa La Vera, a newly renovated studio apartment in West Central.

As a clinical social worker and single mom, the online marketplace that offers alternatives to a traditional hotel has given her a peace of mind.

“Being an Airbnb host is so helpful for me as far as having a little extra income to support my son and allowing me to not have to work full time outside of the home,” Bayer said. “It’s a wonderful way for me to have more independence.”

Bayer makes up one of the 4,600 Indiana hosts who share their homes via Airbnb.

On Wednesday, the company said in a report that the Indiana host community earned a combined 4,800 a year.

Allen County was one of  20 counties listed in the report, with the total host income for 2018 being $969,000 and having about 10,100 guest arrivals, a 148 percent increase in arrivals from last year, Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said.

Kosciusko County had a total host income of 285,000 and 2,400 guests.

Since Airbnb was founded in 2008, a big question among those in the hospitality industry was how Airbnb would affect hotels.

Through a collection of statewide data, Airbnb found it is complementing the Indiana hotel industry, rather than competing with it.

The most recent report from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development shows that Indiana hotel occupancy rates and revenue have grown steadily even as local Airbnb hosts welcomed thousands of guests.

“This suggests that Airbnb is opening up the state to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to be together under one roof,” Airbnb said in a statement.

When Bayer first began renting out her apartment, her guests weren’t what she expected.

Instead of families traveling or millennials exploring the city, many visitors were long-term traveling nurses and therapists looking for a place to stay.

Within a month, Casa La Vera was booked for a year.

Bayer attributes that to Airbnb being a little more affordable than a hotel and having a closer connection with hosts.

While her space was first built in the 1800s, it offers updated furnishings and is close to downtown.

And unlike a hotel, guests have access to their own kitchen stocked with utensils and dishes.

“It seems like people just like being able to connect with a person in their home as opposed to dealing with a person in a hotel or a big corporation,” Bayer said.

cstefanski@jg.net

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