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Airbnb a growing revenue generator in Cook County

Sunday, February 03, 2019
Chicago Business Journal
by Louis Lazare

Airbnb, the global home-sharing service, said on Monday the company’s Cook County host community took in $109 million in supplemental income in 2018 and welcomed approximately 710,000 guests while raking in the millions.

The $109 million figure compares to $77 million in income Airbnb hosts collected in 2017 in the City of Chicago alone.

A spokesman for the company said the decision was made to expand the figures for 2018 to encompass all of Cook County rather than just the City of Chicago. The county includes a number of large suburbs, such as Evanston and Oak Park, which have also been popular Airbnb destinations.

Interestingly, Airbnb also put a new spin on its data for 2018, suggesting the growing income realized by Airbnb hosts “complements" rather than threatens the local hotel industry, which has tended to view the home-sharing service as bad for the hotel industry.

Rather Airbnb positioned the growing home-sharing business in Cook County and Chicago this way in a statement: “Airbnb is opening up Chicago and its suburbs to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, families who prefer to be together under one roof and those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels.”

The home-sharing company said it also is good for local governments, because the company collects all applicable local taxes. Airbnb has tax collection agreements in effect with the City of Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois, as well as the governments of large Chicago suburbs such as Oak Park and Evanston.

In announcing revenue numbers for 2018 in Cook County, Airbnb also patted itself on the back for helping to drive more business to neighborhood restaurants, shops and entertainment venues via its “Guidebooks” feature that highlights places of all sorts that have been highly recommended by Airbnb guests.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb has grown to provide more than 5 million places to stay in 81,000 cities and 191 countries.

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