I’ve heard that nightly rates have skyrocketed because of the Super Bowl – why is my pricing not reflecting this?

Many property owners have heard the wild tales of the riches awaiting them if they would only offer their property for rent during the week of Super Bowl 50 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most owners listing with Pillow utilize our proprietary pricing algorithm, which promises to increase revenue, but have noticed that their nightly rates have not increased as dramatically as press coverage would have them believe. There are several factors for this, but the key takeaway is that the supply of short-term rentals is much more elastic than hotel rooms — as prices go up, more and more property owners put their places on the market, which limits the potential upside that any one owner/host can make. While this article addresses Super Bowl 50 specifically, the principles are the same in any market hosting a large event.

Here's the raw data:

The week leading up to Super Bowl 50 shows an increase in the number of people listing their homes on Airbnb. Most of this increase seems to be hosts who do not regularly make their properties available, but are looking to cash in on the increased demand (the Speculator Effect):

  • Santa Clara has 60% more listings on Super Bowl weekend than the surrounding weeks
  • San Jose shows 34% more listings for the same period
  • San Francisco has 10% more listings for the same period
  • Oakland has only a 3% increase for Super Bowl weekend, compared to its norms for the time of year

Prices are also markedly different for Super Bowl weekend in the various cities:

  • Santa Clara prices increase 25% 
  • San Jose prices are up 34%, though rooms on average are considerably cheaper in San Jose than Santa Clara
  • San Francisco prices are up 25%
  • Oakland prices have increased only 13%

Overall, the big game is resulting in many more nights sold on Airbnb than is typical for this time of year:

  • Santa Clara has an estimated 375% increase in the number of nights sold
  • San Jose has 124% more nights booked on Airbnb than usual
  • San Francisco saw an increase of 66% in nights booked for the Super Bowl
  • Oakland's nights sold increased 36%

So, the two key takeaways:

  1. We're seeing that prices for the Super Bowl 50 are up throughout the Bay Area, but are higher in areas near the stadium -- Santa Clara is seeing a 25% increase. However, inventory is up too -- there are 60% more listings on Airbnb in Santa Clara that weekend than a normal weekend.
  1. It's certainly a great idea to list your property on Airbnb to cash in on Super Bowl mania, but don't expect a huge windfall. Because Airbnb inventory is elastic -- more people list their properties as prices go up -- it limits the overall amount you can make.

Some final advice:

The best bet for property owners listing with Pillow is to let our pricing algorithm do the work for you – maximizing your revenue is one of the key benefits of using our service. However, if you are inclined to manage your own pricing during the Super Bowl season, we'd suggest you only charge 25% to 30% above normal. Unless you're extremely close to the stadium, you shouldn't shoot the moon -- you might walk away without a booking! 

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