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Short-term rental owners set to profit from pope’s East Coast visit

Number of Airbnb listings in Philadelphia swells, but demand hasn't quite reacted

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Takeaways

  • Demand for short-term rentals in Philadelphia increased year over year by 795 percent.
  • Of the 2,540 Airbnbs available during the days Pope Francis will be in town, 1,716 were created within the past 90 days.
  • The suburbs around D.C. have seen an increase in demand for short-term rentals on HomeAway.

When Pope Francis makes his rounds in the U.S. in September, people from all over the country are expected to flock to the cities he is visiting for a chance at simply being in his presence.

Others are hoping to make a pretty penny off his visit.

Short-term rentals from sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have already shown a shift for the days the pope will be in Philadelphia, in particular.

Short-term rental property owners in Washington, D.C., and New York City haven’t seen much in terms of increased demand, according to Everbooked data. HomeAway reported an uptick of 31 percent in demand for the Virginia suburbs surrounding D.C. and a 5 percent increase in Maryland suburbs.

However, the story is different in Philadelphia. HomeAway reported a 795 percent increase in demand, which is based on a combination of bookings and inquires versus the same time last year, for rentals in the city, and more rentals have come to the market to accommodate the increase in demand.

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HomeAway reported that the majority of its rentals are booked, with 19 percent, 13 percent and 17 percent availability in Philadelphia, D.C. and New York, respectively.

When the pope announced his visit to these cities in November 2014, it didn’t take long for hotels within a 10-mile radius of each city to book themselves solid. The Associated Press reported the sold-out hotels the day the pope made his announcement.

According to Everbooked, there has been a massive surge of the number of Airbnbs listed during the dates he’ll be in town. Of the 2,540 Airbnb listings available during those days, 1,716 were created within the last 90 days before the data was pulled on August 12. In the last 30 days, 935 were created, and 1,470 were created in the last 60 days.

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Of all of the listings for those dates, 808 are specifically marketing toward his visit with either “Pope” or “Papal” in the listing titles.

Concerned these people are taking advantage of the pope’s visit? The archdiocese is actually promoting the use of apartment-sharing services — but, of course, it is not encouraging surge pricing.

Lucky for visitors, there is still a large pool of supply to choose from in downtown Philadelphia. A large portion of Airbnb bookings regularly take place within 30 days of the stay, and sometimes in less than 10 days.

Email Kimberly Manning.