Tahoe Airbnb use up 50 percent over last ski season | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Airbnb use up 50 percent over last ski season

Amanda Rhoades | arhoades@sierrasun.com

Ski resorts weren't the only ones to profit from this year's snowfall totals.

Lake Tahoe-area Airbnb hosts earned $32 million this past ski season, a 50 percent increase from last year, according to a lake-wide report issued by the company on May 3.

But it's not just earnings that went up. Total Airbnb guests in Lake Tahoe jumped 48 percent over last ski season, amounting to 185,000 visitors according to the report. The bulk of the trips made were in December, followed closely by January and February.

"This winter with the epic snow, we were fully booked," said Airbnb host Biren Talati. "We were booked so much, it kind of affected the ability for us to come up."

Of the $32 million total earned by Airbnb hosts in Lake Tahoe this ski season, $7.9 million of that went to hosts in Truckee, which received 37,200 guests using Airbnb alone in the last year.

Talati is a Bay Area resident, who said he's been traveling to Lake Tahoe for years. He purchased a property in Squaw Valley in December 2015, and credits Airbnb with enabling him to do so.

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"With the ability to do Airbnb, it made it affordable for my family to purchase," he said.

Even with this year's record-breaking precipitation that caused road closures and power outages throughout the region, Talati said he has been experiencing high demand for his rental.

"The Bay Area is the most common (visitor origin), but we get people from all over," he said. "It's an international destination."

This past ski season, more than 50 percent of Airbnb visitors in Lake Tahoe were from Bay Area cities, according to the report. Visitors from Los Angeles made up 2.6 percent of Airbnb stays, and travelers from Sacramento made up 2 percent. About 33 percent of visits were during weekdays.

"In a year like this where there was a lot of excitement about the snow, there was definitely a lot of interest and inquiries," said Airbnb host Melanie Meharchand. "I saw an interest in people staying more than just the weekend, so that's the way that I perceived there being a greater demand this year."

Meharchand is a Bay Area resident, who has owned a home near Donner Lake for about five years. She said she and her family used to come up every weekend, but as her kids grew older and had more activities to attend, the family wasn't able to make the drive as frequently. She said they began renting their home on Airbnb about a year and a half ago, and prior to that had done so on occasion on their own.

"The first fear you have is that people are going to trash your stuff, but after that first time I realized it was much like when my friends used the place, except the Airbnb people paid me," she said.

Meharchand said that while getting paid was nice, and helped them make improvements to the house that they otherwise would not have been able to afford, she also just didn't want the home to sit unused.

"It was less about the mortgage for me and more about the thought that I had this resource to use," she said. That kind of appeals to me — the idea that other families could use it (the home) too."

Meharchand said that even though she works in the Bay Area, she considers Truckee her home.

"I love the town of Truckee, and I really am interested in how things work there civically," she said. "We spend the week in Sausalito, but I tell people that I live in Truckee because that's where we go to live and to decompress."

Of the $32 million total earned by Airbnb hosts in Lake Tahoe this ski season, $7.9 million of that went to hosts in Truckee, which received 37,200 guests using Airbnb alone in the last year.

The other neighborhoods included in the study were Carnelian Bay, Crystal Bay, Glenbrook, North Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood, Stateline, Dollar Point, Kings Beach, Kingsbury, Soda Springs, Sunnyside-Tahoe City, Bear Valley, Markleeville, Zephyr Cove, Tahoe Vista, and South Lake Tahoe. Typical earnings over the last 12 months range from $7,100 in Bear Valley to $19,400 in Carnelian Bay.

Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at arhoades@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.

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