Phoenix Airbnb Manager Stunned by Empty Units Over Super Bowl Weekend

Phoenix Airbnb Manager Stunned by Empty Units Over Super Bowl Weekend

  • Phoenix Airbnb hosts expected to be full during Super Bowl weekend.
  • A manager of 95 properties said he was half-booked and had reduced the price for a night from $1,200 to $500.
  • Some U.S. spots are experiencing a glut of short-term rentals that can hurt guest booking schedules.

It should have been the busiest weekend in years for Airbnb hosts in Phoenix.

But now owners of short-term rentals are scrambling to fill empty units with out-of-town revelers ahead of Sunday Super Bowl game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.

A few months ago, Ric Kenworthy, who manages 95 properties in the Phoenix area through his company Old Town Rental, predicted that they would all be rented before the big game. Today, two days before kick-off, the occupancy rate is only 45%.

Take a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home that Kenworthy manages in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix that actively prepared for a surge of Super Bowl visitors. Initially, he thought he could make $1,200 per night with a five-night minimum. Now he’s reduced the rate to $500 a night with a two-night minimum — and it’s still not booked.

“It’s mind-boggling at this point,” Kenworthy told Insider.

Super Bowl disappointment comes as hosts in some regions complain about slow bookings, Twitter is chatting about aAirbnbust,” and market data shows an increase in the number of Airbnbs nationwide that has exceeded the increase in demand from travelers. Some hosts respond by switching to medium or long-term rental or prioritize direct bookings. The AirDNA analysis site even predicts national income will decrease slightly for hosts across the country in 2023 compared to previous years.

As of Thursday, only 52% of available rentals in Phoenix were booked, according to data from AirDNA. Two of the latest host cities, Los Angeles and Miami, saw over 80% of all available short-term rentals booked for their gaming weekends, AirDNA found. A headline from the New York Times said The Phoenix Super-Bowl short-term rental market was a “fumble”.

This is not for lack of travellers, but rather a signal of oversupply. More than a million people are expected to descend on Phoenix before the Super Bowl, according to the local Fox station, but visitors have more rental choices than ever before. AirDNA found that between February 2017 and January 2023, Airbnb and VRBO listings in Phoenix more than quadrupled, from 5,000 to 21,000. A request for comment from Airbnb was not immediately returned on Friday.

State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

The Super Bowl takes place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There are even signs of a recent surge in registrations in response to the Super Bowl hype.

Kenworthy said an Airbnb representative told him that more than 2,200 new listings had come online in the past two months, which Kenworthy said were mostly from locals who don’t typically rent out their spaces. but were looking to “ride the wave” of the weekend of games.

Brian Harvey, director of Rate Simple Mortgage, which lends and mentors short-term rental investors in Phoenix, said his clients have faced similar booking downturns.

One, he explained, has a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit near much of the weekend festivities. Guests originally booked it for $925 a night, but canceled this week, saying they found a cheaper deal nearby. Now the house costs just $300 a night – and is still available.

In 2015, the last time Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl, Airbnb hosts collectively earned more than $1.1 million, the short-term rental giant told local newspaper The Arizona Republic Last year. Harvey said many locals are eager to get in on the action this time.

In November 2022, Harvey added, one of his clients bought a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home about 10 miles from the stadium for $388,000. The client anticipated he would rent it for $1,000 a night, but it’s empty this weekend.

While Phoenix will continue to be a popular vacation spot, Harvey predicts the Super Bowl disappointment will motivate some landlords to sell their short-term rental properties.

“We’ll see some of these people come out,” he told Insider. “I’m sure and certain.”

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