San Francisco’s Airbnb business is taking a hit as hosts report a significant decline in bookings for the usually busy summer months. Factors like sustained negative press surrounding crime and public safety have impacted the city’s image as a tourist destination. As such, the growing reputation is discouraging travelers from choosing it as a vacation spot. The absence of international travelers, remote work consternation, and increased competition from discounted hotel rates have further contributed to the decline in short-term rental bookings.

Pricing Down 40% On Airbnb Stays

Hosts are witnessing a drop in revenue and occupancy, with pricing for Airbnbs down by about 40% compared to last year. The situation has allowed travelers to shop around for better deals and negotiate lower prices. As a result, nights stayed in vacation rentals in May 2023 were down by 29% compared to May 2019.

Critics of short-term rentals in San Francisco point to platforms like Airbnb and VRBO for exacerbating the city’s housing shortage. The city has implemented several regulations to mitigate the impact. Airbnb owners now face registration requirements and a 14% transient occupancy tax similar to hotels.

Impact Of Reduced Bookings

Many hosts, like Cathryn Blum and Linda Litehiser, who rely on Airbnb income to support their mortgages or generate additional income are feeling the impact of reduced bookings. Litehiser’s bookings are mostly from local travelers or those visiting family in the area. She has also noticed increased vigilance among guests regarding property theft and safety.

Hosts Are Advised To Adjust

In response to the challenging situation, short-term rental hosts should review their rates. Improving listings and offering competitive perks are other tactics owners are encouraged to use to attract bookings. The San Francisco Tourism Improvement District will start including short-term rental hosts, requiring them to pay fees from January to support marketing efforts for the city as a travel destination.

Despite the current difficulties, some hosts remain optimistic about a turnaround in San Francisco’s tourism industry.