Airbnb sees big surge in Ottawa ahead of Canada Day

Online room-sharing company reports significant increases in bookings and per-night rates for the big weekend

Canada Day
Canada Day

Airbnb customers are flooding into Ottawa for Canada Day weekend, and more than twice as many private homes are up for rent this year compared to 2016.

The company behind the popular app, which allows people to rent out their home or rooms for short stays, is expecting 5,900 guests to arrive in the capital for the long weekend — up from about 2,600 a year ago. 

Alexandra Dagg, public policy manager for the company, said that major events like Canada Day reveal Airbnb’s commercial strengths.

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“One of the things I think our platform does best is provide elastic supply during big events, when there are just not enough hotels,” she said.

Most Ottawa hotels have been booked for months for the Canada Day weekend, and the city has even responded by opening up campground space outside recreation centres.

Dagg said the Montreal Grand Prix and Jazz Festival and the Pan Am Games in Toronto saw similar spikes in demand.

Dagg said that this year’s surge is due in part to the app’s steadily increasing popularity. But, she said, the additional allure of a big birthday in the capital is undoubtedly a major factor.

She said many hosts are probably trying Airbnb for the first time — and that could lead to a larger permanent inventory in Ottawa.

Along with a spike in demand has come a rise in prices. Average rates are up by more than 25 per cent, from $72 a night in 2016 to $93 a night in 2017.

Some users are clearly angling for a major windfall: As of Tuesday afternoon, one ByWard Market apartment was listed for $914 a night for the Canada Day weekend; two weekends later — July 14-16 — it could be had for $275 a night.

Dagg said users are allowed to set their prices as high as they want — but, she pointed out, the $900 price tag might explain why that particular unit was still available.

By the numbers

Airbnb hosts in Ottawa: 1,600
Estimated total revenue for hosts during Canada Day weekend: $1,125,000
Average price per night: $93

This story originally appeared in Metro News.

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