- On February 3, the Iowa caucuses will finally kick off the 2020 Democratic primary nomination process, closely followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 11.
- Regardless of who comes out on top, the rental platform Airbnb and its network of hosts are already winners of Iowa, New Hampshire, and the primary cycle as a whole.
- As Airbnb has grown the past four years, it’s drastically increased its outreach efforts in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
- In the two weeks before the contests, Airbnb estimates hosts are seeing a 742% rise over the number of bookings in Iowa compared to the same time in 2016, and a 462% increase in New Hampshire bookings over the same period in 2016.
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On February 3, the Iowa caucuses will finally kick off the 2020 Democratic primary nomination process, followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 11.
Regardless of which presidential candidates emerge victorious from the early primary contests, the rental platform Airbnb and its network of hosts are already winners of Iowa, New Hampshire, and the primary cycle as a whole.
A Democratic field that started with nearly 20 contenders and has a record number of major candidates still in the running for the nomination has brought an influx of thousands of out-of-state staffers and volunteers flocking to states including Iowa and New Hampshire.
As Airbnb has grown over the past four years (it’s now valued at $US31 billion and preparing to become a publicly-traded company), it’s also drastically ramped up its outreach efforts to communities in early primary states – and delivered huge dividends for its hosts.
According to data collected by the company and shared with Insider, Airbnb anticipates that 6,000 people will stay at Iowa homes listed on the platform in the two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, a 742% rise over the 600 estimated guests who booked through Airbnb in the run-up to the state’s 2016 contest.
Altogether, Iowa hosts are expected to bring in a total of $US1.5 million in income from their rentals, compared to only around $US150,000 during the 2016 cycle.
The company also estimates that 15,000 guests will stay in New Hampshire-based Airbnbs in the two weeks before the state’s primary, a 462% increase over the 3,000 Airbnb guests booking listings during the same period ahead of the state’s 2016 primary.
This year, New Hampshire hosts are anticipated to earn approximately $US2.3 million in income compared to just $US500,00 in income during the same timeframe in 2016.
Airbnb said most guests booking accommodations in the weeks leading up to Iowa hail from Des Moines, Chicago, New York, or D.C., while the top cities for New Hampshire guests are New York, and New England cities including Providence, Rhode Island, and the Boston-adjacent cities of Sommerville and Cambridge.
Christopher Nulty, Airbnb’s head of public affairs for the Americas, told Insider that the company has been building up the groundwork to prepare for the 2020 election cycle since he joined the then-startup in 2015.
Nulty said the huge, eye-popping explosion in rental bookings ahead of the Iowa and New Hampshire contests compared to the same timeframe in 2016 is no mistake, and directly reflects 0the company’s core strategy of helping communities plan for major events, like elections, and filling unmet rental demand.
He said that Airbnb boosted the popularity of its platform by making it as accessible and seamless as possible for people to open their homes to campaign staffers and volunteers alike, breaking into new markets and expanding their network of hosts in the process.
During the week of the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio, for example, Nulty said that two-thirds of the people who listed their homes for rent on Airbnb were first-time hosts on the platform.
Voters in Iowa and New Hampshire pride themselves on exceptionally well-informed and knowledgeable about the candidates, and take their role in being the first states in the nation to express their presidential preferences seriously.
Nulty said that Airbnb has also found success tapping into Iowa and New Hampshire-based hosts’ desires to be actively engaged and play a role in the “time-honoured tradition” of their state hosting the first caucus or primary.
“For so many people, having the chance to get to know folks who have decided to work on a presidential campaign to come in and volunteer and knock doors is a really special way to sort of continue to honour that tradition of, having the first caucus in the nation, the first primary in the nation,” he said. “We hear nothing but excitement.”
From the renter’s perspective, Nulty said that in addition to Airbnb being usually more fairly-priced and accessible than hotels, they offer a unique look into a particular community or neighbourhood.
“In the world of politics, we always say all politics are local and there’s no better way to understand the community than by staying with someone who lives there,” he said.
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