Indianapolis named fastest-growing U.S. metro city for online vacation rentals

Business

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – Indianapolis has made a name for itself as the fastest-growing U.S. metropolitan city for vacation rental websites Airbnb and Vrbo, according to a recently issued study.

Just this year, the city saw 63% growth in Airbnb guests over 2018. Hosts of Airbnb in Indianapolis also saw a 73% growth in income over 2018.

Indianapolis, Austin, Texas, and Denver were cited in an AirDNA study, issued in August, as top U.S. metro cities with increasing revenues. Airbnb says downtown districts filled with new dining, night life and local arts are prompting the cities’ growth in the vacation rental market.

Last year, Indiana lawmakers passed a measure to stop localities from banning vacation rental services including Airbnb. That change partnered with a growing population and a list of attractions throughout the year is what Airbnb and city leaders say is leading the way for the exponential growth.

“Now, 28.8 million people race into Indianapolis to not only attend conventions but also major sporting events and leisure travel,” said Chris Gahl, senior vice president with Visit Indy, the convention and visitors bureau for Indianapolis.

Those millions all have to stay somewhere.

“As far as Airbnbs, Indianapolis is growing because there is a lot of stuff going on downtown. Especially in the Mass Ave (cultural distirct) area,” said Airbnb host Doug Lance. “The two biggest weekends for us by far Indy 500, No. 1 — people will rent that six months to a year in advance — and Gen Con.”

Airbnb recorded more than 4,700 stays for the Indianapolis 500 and more than 4,300 stays for Gen Con, the largest tabletop-game convention in North America.

“Airbnb has been a very helpful resource and serving as a relief valve and an alternative way for visitors to soak in the city,” Gahl said.

So, where are the visitors coming from? Gahl said, “Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville are the top three markets that are using Airbnb here in Indianapolis.”

The variety of Airbnb offerings from apartments and condos to single-family homes brings diverse lodgers.

“I mean I have everything from snowbirds to bachelor parties, conventions, obviously, Indy 500 attendees,” said Airbnb “superhost” Cathleen Litz.

Litz has been renting through Airbnb for about 18 months.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be quite as busy as it has been,” Litz said. “We are probably at 70% occupancy most of the year.”

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