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Lollapalooza is a $3.3 million boon to Chicagoans listing homes on Airbnb

People try to stay dry during a light rain at Lollapalooza 2017 last August. | Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

Chicago homeowners will rake in $3.3 million during Lollapalooza by listing their homes and hosting nearly 19,000 “guests” on Airbnb, the home-sharing giant disclosed Thursday.

Airbnb says its Chicago guests spend over $171 per day at restaurants and retail stores, with half that money remaining in the neighborhood where the home is located.

If that’s true, it’ll be a boon to those South Side neighborhoods a short drive from — or within walking distance of — Grant Park.

South Side Airbnb hosts will “disproportionately benefit from the Lollapalooza surge” with 4,000 “guest arrivals” that generate $500,000 in supplemental income, the company said.

The average South Side host should earn $465 over the four-day music extravaganza, with Bronzeville, Woodlawn and Pilsen benefitting most.

Last year, Lollapalooza grew to four days, filling Chicago’s expanded inventory of hotel rooms and helping Airbnb set a record, with 15,000 guests.

Hotels have long resisted and resented the competition from home-sharing services, such as Airbnb.

But Will Burns, who gave up his City Council seat to become Midwest policy director for Airbnb, said “95 percent” of the company’s Chicago listings are located outside the Loop.

”We’re committed to catalyzing economic development on the South Side and neighborhoods throughout the city that traditionally have not benefited from tourism revenue,” Burns was quoted as saying in a press release.

<a href="">Lollapalooza 411: A guide to the music, food, fashion and more</a>
Lollapalooza 411: A guide to the music, food, fashion and more

Airbnb hosts won’t be the only ones who benefit during Lollapalooza weekend. So will the city.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to slap another 2 percent surcharge on Chicago’s burgeoning home-sharing industry; that extra money will bankroll a 50 percent increase in shelter capacity and support services for domestic violence victims.

Thanks to the new fee, the total city tax on the “gross rental or leasing charge of any shared housing unit or vacation rental” is now 6 percent.

An existing 4 percent fee earmarked for homeless services generated $3 million during the first year and another $2.7 million during the 10-month period ending in April of this year.


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