The community, including most of the communities in Northeast Tennessee, earned a combined $1.2 million in supplemental income after welcoming 12,000 Airbnb guests to the region in 2017.
Johnson City earned the most revenue from the market, climbing to the 10th most popular home sharing area in the state after attracting 4,530 guests to homes in the city and generating $514,000 for hosts. This marked a 109 percent year-over-year growth in the Johnson City home sharing market, according to Airbnb.
Mountain City, Erwin and Roan Mountain also achieved more than 100 percent growth in this market in 2017.
Ben Breit, a spokesperson for Airbnb, said statewide data indicates that Airbnb and its host community appear to be complementing the state’s hotel industry rather than competing with it. This suggests that home sharing is opening up Johnson City and the surrounding region to those unable to afford hotels, those who want to stay in neighborhoods or cities without an abundance of hotels and motels and families who prefer to be together under one roof.
“If you look at the hotel data, the industry has never been doing better. It shows us that we’re not taking a slice of the pie, we’re making the pie bigger for everyone,” he said. “Overall, we’re seeing exciting growth. This last quarter was our best yet.”
As more and more people find out about the room-sharing option, Breit said he expects to see more industry growth in the region.
“Our company is about 10 years old, and it initially took off in bigger cities,” he said. “But in recent years, we’re finding that areas that aren’t traditionally tourist destinations are starting to see it as a business opportunity as well.”
Breit said this recent growth in the home sharing market is due to a combination of things. Bristol Motor Speedway’s NASCAR races and other events attract thousands to the region every year, but Breit said the growing ecotourism market in Johnson City and nearby is also a contributing factor.
In general, he said much of it has to do with the demographics of the region’s hosts, 25 percent of whom are over 60 and looking to rent out empty rooms. In fact, 30 percent of active hosts in Johnson City are simply using their vacant rooms as a way to make extra — sometimes much-needed — cash.
“Those empty rooms can become economic opportunities,” Breit said.
Here is how the region took advantage of those economic opportunities:
||Total 2017 Guests
||2017 Host Income