Airbnb Spikes by 158% in North Dakota

Bismarck - Staying overnight in a stranger's home may seem a little odd...
But, for millions around the world, it's become the travel norm.

Airbnb is an online service that lets travelers book out rooms in private homes instead of staying at a hotel.
It's gaining popularity in North Dakota.
Airbnb usage in the state has spiked by 158% over the past year.

Reporter Emily Medalen reached out to one host who says he's had people from across the country stay with him at his home in Bismarck...
And that numbers don't seem to be going down anytime soon.
Here's why.
"A lot of people love it! That's how they like to travel," Sara Otte Coleman, Tourism Division Director, ND Dept. of Commerce.

Airbnb is exploding in North Dakota.
In fact, it's seen over a 150% increase from 2016 to 2017.

"Certain age groups, and certain types of travelers like that. It's kind of a fad right now, the whole collaborative consumption piece," says Otte Coleman.

One host in Bismarck says he's had a variety of guests stay in his home from all over the U.S.

"In their early 20s - people are doing roadtrips across the country. They say 'Hey, let's go to the national parks,' and Bismarck is kind of a gateway," says Richard Duran, Airbnb Host.

Statewide, hosts brought in $667,000 in supplemental income in 2017.

In most states with Airbnb, the host has to pay government taxes, like hotels do. 
Coleman told me that because it's so new to North Dakota, this hasn't been established yet, but it's in the works.

She added that the huge jump in Airbnb use has had a small impact on hotel bookings.

"Our (hotel) occupancy rates are a little lower than we would like them right now," says Otte Coleman.

But, she says as soon as the tax framework is put into place, it should balance out.
So, why are people choosing Airbnb over hotels?
Duran says it's more comfortable - and personal.

"With Airbnb, you can actually look at a person and put a face to the property," says Duran.
"It's great, because it just gives visitors another option. We want to be able to offer the same things in North Dakota that you can find in other parts of the country," says Otte Coleman.
Like Coleman said, it's really popular right now because of the idea of "collaborative consumption" - consumers helping consumers.

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