Booming check-ins: Airbnb seeing more bookings amid the pandemic

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Year after year, Charleston is ranked the best city in the US, bringing in millions of dollars and tourists.

But as the years go by, people have often searched for ways to save money in their stay.

Now, in a pandemic, they also value privacy more than anything.

“The opportunity to stay in an Airbnb and have complete privacy, right. You have the apartment, condo, or home all to yourself and you avoid the interaction with other people,” said Daniel Guttentag, Director of the Office of Tourism Analysis and Hospitality Professor at the College of Charleston.

Guttentag says while Airbnb’s attract tourists, Charleston’s hotels are here to stay.

“We’re not gonna sorta look back 10 years from now, in 20, 30 or whatever, and say ‘oh my gosh, what happened to all the hotels.’ They’ve all disappeared. Airbnb took over.”

Airbnb is now making a booming impact on the hospitality industry in the City of Charleston.

As the pandemic continues, some Airbnb hosts say they’re seeing a significant increase in their sales than in years past.

“It’s thriving. I mean, I really never thought it was gonna be, it’s like every weekend, I’m booked,” said Michelle Johnson, an Airbnb super host.

With high ratings and satisfied guests, Johnson is now considered a “super host” by the company. Her goal is to make everyone feel at home.

“Charleston is a hot spot right now. Everybody loves coming to Charleston.”

But in a pandemic, they also want to be safe. “You don’t really have to have that personal contact. You’re there, you don’t have to be around everybody.”

While the two are different in many ways, there’s a significant overlap between the customers on both sides and tourists have managed to put Airbnbs at the top.

“In the hotel industry, we’re seeing that right now. The occupancy, so essentially the number of tourists that are using hotels, that’s down about on average around 35 percent.”

However, not everyone is happy about the rise in Airbnbs and the City of Charleston is cracking down.

“Since 2018 we’ve probably received probably a little over a thousand complaints,” said Dan Riccio, Director of Livability and Tourism for the City of Charleston.

Riccio says most complaints come from Airbnbs that don’t have a permit.

“They have to adhere and their guests have to adhere to all city municipal ordinances; parking, noise, trash, litter, all of the above.”

While the city is cracking down, Johnson is looking forward to expanding to give tourists a home away from home.

“There’s so many things you can do with an Airbnb, so I think it’s going to be around for a long time.”

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