Use of Airbnb rentals rising rapidly in Mid-South

WATCH: Use of Airbnb rentals rising rapidly in Mid-South

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — Airbnb hosts made nearly $11 million in Shelby County in 2018.

That is about a 30 percent increase from the year before.

One of those hosts is at the Ambassador Hotel in Downtown Memphis. The building used to be a traditional hotel, but not it has been renovated into condos.

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And many of those units are Airbnb’s.

“We’ve got rates starting as low as a nightly rate of $50 a night on up to $300 a night, depending on what the event is,” said Jon Hodge, who owns 15 Airbnb’s across the downtown area.

Last year, 106,000 people stayed in Airbnb’s across the Memphis region – a growing option that is becoming a bigger competitor for the hotel industry.

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“We think anybody who wants to be in business should, but we think it should be a level playing field,” said Wayne Tabor, president of Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association.

In 2017, Airbnb hosts started paying city and county taxes, and within the first year, the company generated $647,000 in tax revenue for the city.

But Tabor said there should be additional regulations for Airbnb’s within the city, matching similar guidelines that are already in place for hosts in the county.

“In city limits, it does not have a fire code for short-term rental properties and the health department don’t have regulations over those,” Tabor said. “And if you’re serving food to people you should be under the regulations of the health department.”

But Hodge disagreed, saying they need to be “very weary” of laws that could “choke down” on Airbnb use in the county.

Hodge said the growing interest in short-term rentals will only help bring more people to the Mid-South.

There are currently 17 hotels in the downtown area with three-to-four new ones opening within the next year.