Will imposing a 4% hotel tax on current Oak Park, IL Airbnb help tourism? Let's look at the numbers.
I love data. I also love contributing my love of the web and digital tools to benefit my community. Which brings me to why I write this post tonight. I attended our Village Board Meeting (it is actually going on as I continue to type). Tonight's agenda including the first reading of ordinance which reads:
This ordinance arose as a result of local bed and breakfast owners having concerns that they have a 4% tax to be paid yet Airbnb hosts do not. After the ordinance was read, a few members of the public had a chance to address the board and present their point of view for why this tax shouldn't be imposed. After public comments, the board discussed the ordinance with a representative from the Village, who is putting the ordinance together.
A few talking points piqued my interest - one of being around data and information. There are times when you may not realize that there are copious amounts of data online to tell a story or confirm a hunch. There didn't seem to be much conclusive data around how many Airbnb rentals were in Oak Park, IL and how much yearly revenue these listings brought to the village. A straight up search for 'Oak Park, IL' under Airbnb shows surrounding areas.
I decided to find the data. I used a third party source that does nothing but analyze public Airbnb data including listings, prices, booked dates, number of rooms, etc. Here is what I found.
As of July 2016, there were 75 active listings on Airbnb. The definition of 'active' is derived as:
"We determine whether a listing is active by looking at a number of factors including: whether it had a confirmed booking in the month, if it is currently live on the site, if the host has updated the calendar recently and if the host is actively responding to inquiries."
According to this chart, the annual revenue of Oak Park Airbnb listings (August 2015-July 2016) was $147,744. If you take 4% of that amount, you get to roughly $5,909 that could go towards Oak Park's tourism efforts. August numbers haven't refreshed just yet, but at least we have some talking points and data to use for future discussions. Jump to the end for the full report.
So where do we go from here? Should Oak Park impose this tax? Even if the guest was paying this fee, will the perception hurt future Airbnb listings? Will the additional work between Oak Park and Airbnb in collection of those fees take a while? I don't know.
But at least we have more data to take into consideration.
*I personally paid $29.99 for the report. No one paid me to obtain the report.