Indy 500 visitors quickly book Airbnb rentals, provide financial boost to local hosts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It’s the hottest time of the year in Indiana as hundreds of thousands of people will attend the Indy 500 and the events leading to the race on May 26.

Those visitors need somewhere to stay, but many hotels are filled up. Airbnb is another option, but those get quickly booked up too.

“I got a booking from some folks from southern California who stayed here for almost a week for the race,” said local Airbnb host Terry Kirts.

Kirts rented out that room in his home for the first time during the 100th running in 2016 and continued renting ever since. He says race weekend is one of the busiest.

“I had a cancellation for my booking for this year’s Indy 500, and it immediately booked the next day,” he said.

Other events are popular for hosts, like the FFA Convention, 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, Monumental Marathon and Gen Con.

Terry says the price he charges varies. “For a week night, somewhere in the range of $50, weekends $60 to a little more than that,” he said. “It can be a really nice way to supplement your income.”

In 2018, Airbnb shows Indiana’s 4,600 hosts brought in about $36 million, welcoming over 320,000 guests. In Marion County alone, hosts brought in about $14 million.

“They’re benefitting small businesses and restaurants and shops in addition, obviously, to the income that’s going directly into the pockets of the local homeowners,” said Ben Breit with Airbnb.

When cities, like Carmel, tried to ban local rentals, their efforts failed.

“Home sharing is protected in all of Indiana,” Breit said.

That protection leaves Kirts in Indianapolis, and others elsewhere, free to list and host.

“I have had some tenants here from Australia,” Kirts said. “It’s been really wonderful.”

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