Milwaukee’s Airbnb hosts will feel DNC impact

$2.2 million in combined income expected during convention

The living room Fletcher's

Last updated on June 18th, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Since becoming an Airbnb host in 2014, Frances Fletcher has welcomed a wide range of guests– from construction crews to rock bands– through the door of her Bay View duplex. 

She recently updated the availability for her three-bedroom, one-bathroom lower level space to include summer of 2020.

Fletcher is getting an early start because while that’s already a busy time for tourism in Milwaukee, it will be even busier in July next year when the Democratic National Convention brings an estimated 50,000 additional visitors to the city.

Fletcher is one of the current 1,500 Airbnb hosts in the Milwaukee area, but that number may soon increase as a response to the expected demand for housing during the convention.

Before winning its bid to host the convention, Milwaukee met the requirement of securing a minimum of 15,000 hotel rooms within a 40-minute drive of the city center. A total of 16,000 hotel rooms in that radius are currently blocked for the party’s delegates and staff, but that leaves other convention-related visitors such as media and lobbying groups in need of accommodations.

In regard to large events like the DNC, Airbnb has positioned its home sharing services as a way of helping host cities expand lodging capacity and capitalize on the economic impact of the event.

During the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia, Airbnb hosts in that city earned a combined $2.4 million in supplemental income, according to the company. 

For Milwaukee’s Airbnb hosts during next year’s convention, Anthony Pennington-Cross, a finance professor at Marquette University, estimates that total to be about $2.2 million. Pennington-Cross conducts research on Airbnb using data provided by vacation rental analyst AirDNA.

His findings show that $1.5 million of the total combined income made by Airbnb hosts during 2020 DNC will be brought in by new hosts– those who will list their homes in response to the convention.

But people who become hosts specifically because of the DNC are not guaranteed to book a convention-related guest, Fletcher said.

“You cannot discriminate to say ‘I only want people who are here for the DNC,'” she said. “If you list your place, you are subjecting yourself to the bachelorette parties, too.”

Fletcher usually lists her duplex for about $1,000 per night during the summer, but that rate can vary based on the number of guests, she said. The 1,100-square-foot space can sleep up to 16 people, so it’s great for large groups, but she also rents out portions of the first level and the shared space on the second level to smaller parties for an average of $200 per night during the summer, she said.

She said she plans to increase her normal summer rate by 20 percent for the week of the DNC, which is July 13 to 16. Her space is currently listed on Airbnb for $1,020 during that time frame.

As of March 22, Fletcher said she had not yet received booking inquiries for the week of the DNC, but based on usual summertime demand, she expects it to book fast.

“In May of 2018, every weekend was booked for June, July and August of this year,” she said. “You need to start booking now if you are getting married in Milwaukee in 2020.”

For those interested in becoming Airbnb hosts, the company provides guidance on its website.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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