Airbnb business booms as visitors seek to ‘experience’ Montgomery

Airbnb booming in Montgomery as visitors look to 'experience' city

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Your home could be your key to getting in on the ground floor of what’s becoming a booming business in Montgomery. More homes are opening their doors to the Airbnb business, and finding it very lucrative.

A.J. Hayles is an Airbnb host. She first listed her home in the spring.

“We just saw a huge opportunity to provide a different type of service,” Hayles explained. “Hosting someone and giving them a personal, local touch.”

Hayles’s property is nearly always occupied. “The first month we probably had 95% occupancy, that’s with zero reviews,” she said. Still, she says it only sits empty a few days a month, even with more than 250 Airbnb listings in the Montgomery area.

That’s not surprising to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

“On a daily basis, $1.5 million in our local economy is coming from visitors,” according to Meg Lewis as she described how Montgomery is now “on the map” as a destination for a wide range of visitors. “People are looking at Montgomery, and what they want to do is get into the place and understand the culture, because we have a very special and unique culture here in Montgomery and that’s what they’re looking for. That makes an Airbnb one of the great options.”

“They come to see EJI (Equal Justice Initiative), go to Tuskegee, they may be here for graduations at Maxwell, for example,” Hayles said of the people who have rented her property. “They want an experience.”

And they want it to feel something like home.

“It’s kind of a bed and breakfast meets hotel, meets staying at home, but you’re on vacation,” Hayles added.

The Airbnb property is not her primary home. Airbnb was the sole purpose she and her husband had when they purchased it. It’s not her primary income either, but she says the potential is there for Airbnb to become that down the road.

To learn more about what it takes to become an Airbnb host, click here:

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