The Moscone Effect: What Dreamforce and Big Conferences Mean for Airbnb

by Ian McHenry
Wednesday, October 1 2014

As Oracle OpenWorld clogs the streets in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco this week and Uber surge pricing hits 4x, San Franciscans are reminded that it is again that magical time of year: conference season. If you didn’t increase your rates on Airbnb this week, it’s not too late.

The king of conference season is by far Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce, which descends upon San Francisco October 13-16th.

With 120,000 attendees expected and only 20,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the conference center at Moscone, Dreamforce is the kind of event that Airbnb was made for.

Number of Available Units in SoMa

Dreamforce is one of those rare events where every single Airbnb listing that is not cockroach infested (and some that are) is booked. Have a look at the available units in SoMa right now.

At the time of writing there were 8 out of around 200 units still available, and they are slim pickings. So, before you read any further:

  1. If you live in San Francisco’s SoMa or downtown neighborhoods and have an Airbnb, and your place miraculously is not booked yet, immediately double your normal rates.
  2. If you live in those neighborhoods and have a spare bedroom or apartment that is not on Airbnb, list it immediately.

Eric, an Airbnb host with a popular private room in San Francisco’s Financial District who uses Beyond Pricing dynamic pricing software, more than doubled his prices for the week of Dreamforce, earning an additional $500 for the 3 days booked. Even at the significantly higher rate, Eric’s Airbnb listing is considerably more affordable than nearby hotels like The Marriott ($589) or the Westin St. Francis ($530).

% Increase in Hotel Prices During Dreamforce

Hotel October 13th October 15th
Westin St. Francis Sold Out +208%
The W Sold Out +213%
Marriott Marquis Sold Out Sold Out
Hilton Union Square +246% +246%

Hotels have whole teams of experts tracking demand and adjusting prices so they never miss a beat. Some hotels increase rates over a year in advance. Just look at prices for next year’s Dreamforce, which begins September 15, 2015: the W is already $959/night.

Until now, Airbnb hosts have been on their own when it came to knowing when to increase prices. We see it all the time: completely empty calendars for months on end, and then two weeks in October booked months in advance. And those two weeks are always Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld.

Oracle OpenWorld ends October 3rd. Dreamforce runs from the 13th-16th.

Beyond Pricing helps hosts make the most of high demand conference days with data-driven price recommendations, tailored to each listing. Take a look at our recommended prices for Dreamforce and sign up for Beyond Pricing to get your own personalized price recommendations.