From Home-sharing to Ghost Hotels


Fairbnb.ca’s research shows that Airbnb listings have grown dramatically since 2010, surpassing 12,000 total short-term rental offerings as the year 2016 came to a close (Figure 1).

Figure 2 tracks the total number of hosts and listings over time. If Airbnb truly was a home-sharing company, the total number of short-term rental listings would be identical to the total number of hosts. Yet, as Figure 2 highlights, this is no longer the case as more and more hosts operate two or more entire home listings at any given time.

By the end of 2016, the number of hosts who operate multiple-listings is relatively small, representing only about 16% of Toronto’s Airbnb host community (Figure 3).

Yet, as Figure 4 illustrates, this relatively small number of multi-listing hosts is responsible for nearly half of all of the reviews left by guests and visitors (Figure 4), suggesting that they run fairly intensive business operations or what we call ghost hotels.

Another indicator that Airbnb enables less and less home-sharing relates to the number of reviews generated by room type (Figure 5). Over two-thirds of the reviews in Toronto are generated by so-called “entire-home listings,” that is, by whole apartments, condos or houses. It is clear that these places are not shared but rented to guests and visitors in their entirety and exclusivity.

Most alarming to Fairbnb.ca is the fact that a mere 16% of Toronto’s host community generates the majority of Airbnb’s revenue in Toronto (Figure 6). As 2016 came to a close, ghost hotel operators accounted for the majority of Airbnb’s revenue in Toronto.[1]

[1] To approximate actual revenue figures, we multiply the number of reviews by the nightly rate and an estimate of the average length of stay across all listings. We then adjust the resulting figure for the proportion of visitors who leave a review. This calculation is performed to account for single and multiple listings to estimate overall revenues before we account for the share of total revenue generated by multi-listing hosts.

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