Members of the public hold signs Inside the board of Supervisors at a discussion of short term rentals in 2015.

A study by the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, funded by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association, indicates that a small number of full-time hosts account for a disproportionate amount of the home-sharing giant’s revenue in some of the country’s biggest cities, including San Francisco.

Some 2.9 percent (308) of San Francisco’s Airbnb hosts were found to be full-time hosts, whose units on Airbnb are available year-round, bringing in 22.4 percent of Airbnb’s local revenue – some $43.6 million over the course of a year.

The study also found that hosts with three or more listings, which the study’s authors dubbed mega-operators, have been the fastest growing group of Airbnb hosts in the last two years, and though they only account for about 7 percent of total users, they generate 25 percent of Airbnb’s revenue nationally.

In San Francisco, 552 of these mega-operators accounted for $34.1 million of Airbnb’s local revenue, according to the study. Just three of them were full-time hosts, and those three together generated $608,000 in revenue in a year.

Short term rentals in units that aren’t the host’s primary residence, or for more than 90 nights a year, is against local law, making the mega-operators and full-time operators cited in the study illegal. 48Hills argues that these operators represent more than half of Airbnb’s local revenue and explain its roughly $8 million investment in defeating a ballot measure last November that would have required it to list only compliant hosts.

An Airbnb spokesperson told the Examiner that the study was misleading and that the majority of hosts rent their own homes and do so infrequently.

The Office of Short Term Rentals, tasked with enforcing local short term rental law, operates on a complaint-based system and must go after apparent scofflaws individually. It has begun enforcement against 265 hosts since its formation last year, issuing only 14 notices of violation so far. As of September of last year, 667 hosts have registered with the city – the Penn State study indicates San Francisco has a total of 10,651 hosts.

The data was sourced from Airdna, a site that collects data on Airbnb transactions nationwide and provides information to Airbnb operators. The study excludes shared rooms and apartments, as well as unorthodox accommodations like boats and tents.

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  1. in the interest of full disclosure, from their websites:
    “American Hotel & Lodging Association is the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee U.S. lodging industry, including hotel owners, REITs, chains, franchisees, management companies, independent properties, state hotel associations, and industry suppliers.”
    “The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation is building tomorrow’s hotel industry — and the talent to fuel it. In our increasingly complex business, research and education are crucial to ‘ensuring the lodging industry continues to thrive’.”
    “Programs offered by the Penn State School of Hospitality Management help to prepare students for management careers in hotels, restaurants, resorts, casinos…”
    interested parties? perhaps.

  2. Thank you for providing this documented information. I suggest that the 308 Airbnb hosts referred to in the are tip of the iceberg and that, as time goes by, we will find the numbers of these serial offenders will grow larger.