Charlotte-area residents are already thinking of ways to cash in on the Republican National Convention that is coming here in 2020. Some need only look as far as their front door.
Take Kevin Stringari. In 2012, he and his wife left town for the week and hosted guests in their uptown apartment for the duration of the Democratic National Convention. Over the seven-day period, he made $3,000. It covered the cost of their vacation and rent for the month.
Now Stringari, who works in property management, serves as a host for 12 Airbnb properties around the city. His company, Bottom Line Realty & Management, has worked with traditional rental properties before, but Stringari said he’s found Airbnbs to be more lucrative.
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There are about 1,500 active Airbnb hosts in Charlotte, according to the San Francisco-based lodging company. And over 100,000 guests have stayed at their properties in the last year. Other home rental services have a smaller presence in Charlotte: For instance, Trip Advisor subsidiary Flip Key had 52 rentals available, according to its website.
Now, another national event provides an opportunity for even inexperienced hosts to make some money.
“Particularly for special events like the convention… we find that we have a number of first-time hosts and first-time guests,” said Crystal Davis, a spokeswoman for Airbnb. “It’s a good opportunity for (hosts) to make income and make use of their home.”
Stringari said he will continue hosting through the RNC, and plans to raise rates during that period. Typically, he said, he charges $90-110 per night. But during the RNC, he could see charging $300-400.
Big events like the RNC come with high demand for housing, Davis said. And with hotels typically booked up, Airbnb hosting can be easier and more affordable.
There are 26,000 hotel rooms in Mecklenburg County, according to Charlotte’s bid for the convention, a number that will soon include 6,000 center city rooms. At the 2016 RNC, an estimated 50,000 visitors flocked to Cleveland.
Becoming an Airbnb host is “fairly easy,” Stringari said. Potential hosts sign up through the service’s website, where they can create a listing with photos and descriptions of their property, in addition to details such as amenities. Hosts are able to message potential guests, and payment is handled through the Airbnb website.
But it’s also important that renters check their lease before signing up for home sharing services — some landlords prohibit it.
Additionally, if homeowners want to regularly host guests, it’s important that they talk with their insurance agent, said Stuart Powell, technical consultant with the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina. Coverage may be limited or unavailable for homeowners regularly engaging in rental activity, Powell said, and residents should be sure they’re not putting themselves at risk.
“Someone that wanted to do this regularly should probably look into buying additional coverage, like something that a bed and breakfast would have.” Powell said.
During the 2016 RNC in Cleveland, Airbnb hosts made over $1.7 million, the company said. An estimated 1,900 guests arrived at Airbnb properties— up four times from previous weeks.
Some residents welcome the chance to leave town, Davis said, avoiding the traffic and hassle of a large event while still making some money.
Stringari said he’s only seen interest in his Charlotte Airbnbs grow as years go by.
As national events like the 2012 DNC and 2020 RNC continue to put Charlotte in the national spotlight, it’s likely that more and more people will come to Charlotte, Stringari said.
Davis said that looking beyond financial gain, hosting can be a great way for residents to showcase their hometown. “(It’’s) opportunity to bring tourism traffic to their community,that might not be known for that otherwise.” she said.