Airbnb packing in visitors for Trump inauguration weekend

The home-rental service sees a surge of 15,100 guests planning to stay in the nation's capital next week for the presidential inauguration and Women's March on Washington.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
3 min read

The number of Airbnb guests for this year's presidential inauguration is more than 75 times the number booked during the 2009 inauguration, when Airbnb was just a 1-year-old company.


Big events bring in lots of spectators and the US presidential inauguration is no different.

Tens of thousands of travelers are expected to descend on Washington, DC, next week to see Donald Trump get sworn into office on January 20 or to attend the Women's March on Washington on January 21. Many of these people are opting to stay in Airbnb rentals.

The home-rental company says more than 15,100 people will be staying in more than 5,200 houses, apartments and rooms booked thus far through its service in the DC area between January 19 and 21. That's an increase of 235 percent from the previous week.

"Inauguration Day 2017 itself will be the biggest single night ever for Airbnb and the District of Columbia," Airbnb wrote in a report released Friday.

Airbnb is a home rental marketplace, founded in 2008, that's gone from catering to couch surfers in San Francisco to having a massive online presence. It now has more than 2 million listings with hosts in more than 34,000 cities in nearly every country worldwide. With this expansion the company has managed to not only compete with hotels, but even out-do them in some areas.

Venture-backed Airbnb is valued at $30 billion, which is almost $7 billion more than publicly traded hospitality chain Hilton Worldwide and $23 billion more than Hyatt, according to global travel site Skift.

But hotels in the DC area are also doing well during inauguration week. Like Airbnb, they're packed and prices are up. People can expect to pay anywhere from $335 to $12,000 per night, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Airbnb prices have also risen. A glance at available bookings on the service showed prices at an average of $699 per night during inauguration week. But the company says 90 percent of hosts who already filled their rooms didn't raise their prices much. The typical price increase for a booked listing is roughly $30 per night during inauguration week, the company says, and the median price for a place in Washington, DC, is $129 per night. The prices get lower for nearby Virginia and Maryland.

Airbnb says guests traveling to DC for inauguration week are coming from all over the country. The Top 10 cities of origin for guests are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland and Atlanta.

The number of Airbnb guests for this year's inauguration is more than 11 times the number of guests booked in 2013 and more than 75 times of those booked in 2009. Of course, Airbnb was still a fledgling company in 2009. During that first inauguration of President Barack Obama, people turned to the online yellow pages site Craigslist, which skyrocketed with more than 500 listings, according to The Washington Post.

Airbnb has seen an influx of guests for other major events over the past year. During the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the service said it had 5,200 and 1,900 guests, respectively. Airbnb also saw similar trends during Super Bowl 50 in the San Francisco Bay Area last year and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

One DC Airbnb host, Jade Moore, expects to have guests from all over the US next week, including Texas, North Carolina and Indiana. Some guests will be watching Trump get inaugurated, while she'll protest with others at the Women's March on Washington. She doesn't mind that she may not see eye-to-eye with all of them on political issues.

"I'm actually looking forward to having a house full of diverse company, and breaking bread with the guests in my kitchen," Moore said.

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