Airbnb's Effect on Manhattan Hotels Is Minor

Airbnb has had only a minor effect on Manhattan hotel business, according to STR. The lodging-data provider analyzed Airbnb-provided data for Manhattan from Dec. 1, 2013, through Nov. 30, 2015, which STR says is the largest data set Airbnb has provided to a third-party company. STR wasn't compensated by Airbnb for the analysis, and publishing the findings wasn't contingent on reporting any predetermined results.

STR reported eight significant conclusions from the study:

1. Airbnb isn't cannibalizing hotel demand. STR found no evidence that Airbnb rentals are taking guests away from hotels. Although Airbnb room nights accounted for 5.5 percent of overall Manhattan lodging in 2015, Airbnb occupancy nearly always ran well below hotel occupancy, which averaged 87 percent in 2015 and exceeded 95 percent on 52 days.

2. Manhattan has 10 times more hotel rooms than it has Airbnb units. Airbnb's room-night availability represented 9.8 percent of total hotel room-night availability, and that assumes that every "available" Airbnb unit is bookable. In practice, Airbnb hosts can be selective about the bookings they accept.

3. Airbnb isn't weakening Manhattan room rates. No pattern emerged showing that high-demand nights on Airbnb affected hotel prices. (And Airbnb achieved only a 4 percent higher rate for such high-demand nights.)

4. Airbnb rates average $100 less than hotel rooms. During periods of high demand, hotel room rates climb much higher above their average than Airbnb rates do, and there is a very little statistical correlation between hotel room rates and Airbnb unit rates.

5. Airbnb accounted for about 3.5 percent of Manhattan lodging revenue in 2015. That was an increase from 2.8 percent in 2014.

6. Airbnb units are generally lower chain scales. More than 60 percent of Manhattan Airbnb units are considered midscale or economy, vs. the 13 percent of Manhattan hotel supply that falls in those categories.

7. Airbnb guests stay longer than hotel guests. More than 40 percent stayed between seven and 29 nights, and nearly 17 percent stayed for more than a month.

8. Airbnb occupancy fluctuates more steeply than does hotel occupancy.

STR's findings come less than a week following a report from CBRE Hotels that named New York City the number-one domestic market at risk from Airbnb growth, based on a comparison of average daily room rates.