Why the Super Bowl is Disappointing Airbnb and HomeAway Opportunists Again

by Ian McHenry
Thursday, January 29 2015

It looks like the Super Bowl is going to be another huge disappointment for opportunistic Airbnbers and HomeAway homeowners.

Last year, the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were filled with tales of people listing their Queens studios, miles from the New Jersey Meadowlands stadium, for thousands of dollars a night. This of course led to more people listing their places for outrageous amounts and so on until there was a glut of supply on the market. After the dust settled, it was clear that none of those people got many bookings.

This year is no different in Phoenix.

In both cases, the host cities had enough hotel inventory to house the majority of fans and so there was very little of what we call "spillover." New York has over 100,000 hotel rooms and Phoenix over 60,000.

Couple that with the thousands of people suddenly listing their place and you get a case of a basic failure to fully grasp supply and demand.

Here's a place that's over 12x its normal rate in Phoenix

But individuals aren't to blame. Without data, they have no way of knowing whether their enterprising efforts will flop or will line their pockets.

There is precedent for times when you can list your place on Airbnb and charge 8x what you normally charge. South-by-Southwest (SXSW) is one such "black swan" occasion where the demand for the event is so huge that spillover is enormous.

The graph below shows the number of available and unbooked places leading up to the Super Bowl in Phoenix and SXSW in Austin.

For the Super Bowl, you can see that rather than seeing a huge dip in the number of available units, as you'd expect if there was a surge in demand, there is actually a huge increase! That's the result of thousands of people flooding the market and them not getting booked.

For SXSW, you see a typical dip that accompanies most major events. For hosts in Austin using Beyond Pricing, we are already seeing booking at 6-8x their normal rates.

So what should owners in Phoenix do with only a few days left before the Super Bowl? Should they copy their neighbor's prices? Nope. They're not getting booked either. It's time to throw a Hail Mary and drop prices and hope you'll stand out among the hordes of other listings still unbooked.

Luckily, Beyond Pricing is already helping hosts in San Francisco for next year's Super Bowl so it won't be a three-peat of disappointing Super Bowl results for Airbnbers.