Super Bowl weekend is upon us and it’s meant to be the busiest of the year for Phoenix’s Airbnb hosts. But despite thousands of fans pouring into the city for the big game, short-term rental owners are struggling to fill their units. This year’s Super Bowl weekend marks a major disappointment for hosts, who were banking on a big payday, with the city experiencing an oversaturated vacation rental market, nearly full hotels and an oversupply of Airbnbs.
Ric Kenworthy, who manages 95 properties in the Phoenix area through his company Old Town Rental, had hoped to rent out all of his units ahead of the big game. But now, two days before kickoff, occupancy stands at just 45%. Kenworthy had initially thought he could fetch $1,200 a night for a prime three-bedroom, two-bathroom home he manages in Scottsdale, but has had to cut the rate to $500 a night with a two-night minimum. Despite this, the unit is still not booked.
The disappointing turnout for Phoenix’s Airbnb market during the Super Bowl weekend is a sign of an oversupply of rentals and not a lack of travelers. According to AirDNA, only 52% of available Phoenix rentals were booked as of Thursday, in contrast to two recent Super Bowl host cities, Los Angeles and Miami, which had over 80% of their available short-term rentals booked for their game weekends. The number of Airbnb and VRBO listings in Phoenix have more than quadrupled since February 2017 to January 2023, growing to 21,000 from 5,000, giving visitors more rentals to choose from than ever before.
However, there are even signs of a recent surge in listings in response to the Super Bowl hype, with an Airbnb representative telling Kenworthy that over 2,200 new listings came online in the past two months, which he speculated stemmed mostly from locals who don’t typically rent their spaces but were looking to capitalize on the weekend. Brian Harvey, a director at Rate Simple Mortgage who lends to and mentors short-term rental investors in Phoenix, said his clients have faced similar bookings slowdowns.
For Karen Ochoa and her husband, who live 400 miles away in Thousand Oaks, California, they spent $645,000 on a four-bedroom, two-bath investment property in Phoenix and launched a side business serving as a co-host for other local owners. They listed their house for $1,200 a night during Super Bowl weekend, but there are no takers. While Phoenix will continue to be a popular vacation spot, Harvey predicts that the Super Bowl disappointment will motivate some owners to sell their short-term rental properties.
It’s not just Phoenix that is facing a slowdown in bookings. Data suggests that the increasing number of Airbnbs in the US has outpaced increases in traveler demand, causing some hosts to switch to medium or long-term rentals or prioritize direct bookings. AirDNA predicts that revenue will drop slightly for hosts across the country in 2023 compared to previous years.
Ultimately, the Super Bowl disappointment for Phoenix’s Airbnb market highlights the challenge faced by short-term rental owners, with an oversaturated market and an oversupply of rentals causing bookings to slow down. Despite Phoenix continuing to be a popular vacation spot, this year’s Super Bowl weekend marks a major letdown for hosts, who were banking on a big payday.