Airbnb sees record bookings in Baltimore for Preakness weekend

As visitors begin arriving for Preakness weekend, Baltimore’s Airbnb hosts are preparing to accommodate a record number of guests.

At least 4,270 guests have booked stays in Baltimore through the rental platform between Thursday and Saturday, up about a third from the 3,215 guest arrivals Airbnb had during the race weekend last year, according to Crystal Davis, a spokeswoman for the company.

Airbnb provides short-term rentals — from single beds in a shared room to entire homes — and 970 Baltimore hosts are sharing their homes through Airbnb during Preakness weekend, according to the platform. Less than 100 of those properties were still available for Friday-to-Sunday reservations as of Thursday afternoon.

Saturday will mark Airbnb’s biggest night to date in Baltimore with 2,320 guest arrivals on the books. Airbnb expects local hosts to take home $384,000 from Preakness weekend reservations.

The high demand comes as Baltimore prepares for tens of thousands of Preakness attendees to descend on the city, in addition to visitors in town for other events. A record crowd of 140,327 attendees turned out to Pimlico Race Course for the second jewel of the Triple Crown last year. Other events in Baltimore, such as college graduations and conferences, will bring additional visitors to town and eat into traditional hotel room inventory.

Davis said that’s when travelers often turn to Airbnb. Many visitors use Airbnb for the first time when they’re traveling to large events, such as the race, she said.

“There’s probably not enough hotel rooms or other traditional accommodations to meet that need or that flood in travel, so Airbnb is just another option for people to use,” Davis said.

Airbnb also sees a lot of first-time hosts during big events. Five percent of the hosts offering homes for Preakness are hosting for the first time, according to Airbnb.

Others, like Taylor Hubbard, have been opening their homes to guests for years. Hubbard has been offering the house next to his Mount Vernon home on Airbnb for three years. He’s preparing to welcome three women to the 1700s-era house for a Preakness girls’ weekend.

Those are his favorite kind of guests, he said — the ones who come to experience Baltimore traditions and see the city authentically.

“I really like creating just memories in my house,” he said. “Baltimore is my adopted city, and I want people to fall in love with Baltimore.”

When it comes to Preakness, making memories and celebrating Baltimore traditions has become especially important to Hubbard as stakeholders consider relocating the Preakness from its longtime home at Pimlico Race Course.

Hubbard’s guests are coming to town specifically for the race. He didn’t specifically market his house for Preakness, but other hosts do.

Although some hosts shy away from Preakness revelers, others have seen enormous demand. Jeannette Belliveau said she double-booked her house in Upper Fells Point through Airbnb and another rental platform. She helped relocate guests coming from New York for the race.

“There’s just huge interest in Justify,” she said.

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