Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Airbnb Says Milwaukee is Fastest Growing Destination

You can stay in the Boat House, an East Side mansion or a Riverwest living room via the popular service.

By - Oct 11th, 2019 11:46 am
The "Boat House." Photo by Michael Horne.

The “Boat House.” Photo by Michael Horne.

Milwaukee finds itself in an unusual place – atop the list of trending travel destinations on home-sharing service Airbnb.

Due in large part to the Democratic National Convention (July 2020) and the Ryder Cup (September 2020 in Kohler), Milwaukee has seen 729 percent growth in year-over-year bookings.

Coming in behind Milwaukee on the list are Bilbao, Spain and Buriram, Thailand. The only US locations on the 20 city list are Eugene, Oregon and Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan often slips under the radar but has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum. And with over 105 miles of scenic bike lanes, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is experiencing an upsurge in interest among guests on Airbnb,” says Airbnb’s release.

The fast-growing service, which is expected to become a publicly-traded company in the next two years, has become a key player in the lodging industry with over two million guests staying with the service every night.

Milwaukee’s list-topping growth could be a response to the national criticism that the city did not have enough hotel rooms to host the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Some state delegations, which must stay in larger hotels, are poised to be stationed as far away as northern Illinois near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. And while that leaves a number of hotels in Milwaukee for smaller delegations, the thousands of people anticipated to come outside of the delegates themselves appear to be turning to the home-sharing service to find unique or affordable places to stay.

But that’s not a situation unique to Milwaukee. Airbnb’s history is intertwined with large political events, including the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama where the founders engaged in a guerilla marketing campaign to help establish the service. It provided accommodations for 200 guests in 2009, more than quintupled that figure for Obama’s second inauguration and did more than ten times that (15,100 guests) in 2017 for Donald Trump‘s inauguration and the Women’s March.

Milwaukee offerings on Airbnb range from furnished apartments in large buildings and extra bedrooms in homes to the boat house ($1,295 a night during the DNC) and mansions on the East Side.

We reported in September on a large Westown apartment complex that was having units converted to short-term rentals by an Airbnb-focused startup. A seven-bedroom Gothic mansion, longlisted for sale, is also listed on Airbnb, but not available during the DNC (book it for $995/night in April).

The cheapest entire home accommodation available near Downtown during the DNC found by Urban Milwaukee is $300 night before tax or cleaning fees. Should one be okay sharing space, you can stay overnight in a Riverwest living room for $237 per night or a guest room with private bath in Brewers Hill for $204 per night. Prices drop for shared spaces the further away one gets from Downtown.

The Boat House

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