Pope Francis is about to begin his first visit to the United States, with stops in Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. The popular pontiff is expected to draw huge crowds and with the visitors, comes cash opportunities for businesses. While hotels, restaurants, and transportation options are already seeing a big bump in sales, the Papal visit has other businesses excited to accommodate the influx of tourists too.
Philadelphia is particularly poised to see surges in activity during the Papal visit. While New York City and Washington D.C. have experience with large-scale events and high-profile visitors, the city of brotherly love is less experienced but no less enthusiastic. Estimates suggest Philadelphia will see 1.5 million visitors. That’s exciting and daunting for a city with only 11,500 hotel rooms.
Well aware of the hotel room shortage and the wave of visitors, many locals are embracing AirBnB for the first time. The website that enables people to rent their homes out to tourists has seen a huge increase in first-time users in the area as the Papal visit begins. Many users are looking to capitalize on the visit by renting their home—either the entire house or just a room—to guests.
The website is popular with travelers looking for a cheaper option than hotel rooms and took off in Europe. However, some cities and building managers are none too pleased about its growing popularity in the United States. Philadelphia “became the latest city to legalize rentals through online marketplaces like Airbnb, and require short-term rentals to be subject to an 8.5 percent hotel tax.” While the tax may make it easier to appease city officials, some renters encounter problems with building management officials.
Chuck Holmer is a manager at the City View II condominiums and he has been regularly patrolling AirBnB to, “make sure residents aren’t trying to rent out their place against the buildings policy. Based on photos and user posts, Holmer can often recognize which unit is being advertised, and then contacts the residents directly to straighten them out. ” Holmer explains, “I know what units look like and I know what views look like. I email people saying you need to take it off. “ The building has started using extra precautions to prevent any outsiders from staying in the building during the Papal visit. “We’re requiring any visitors coming be registered ahead of time and we have pictures of them. Unit owners must be present to greet their guests.”
Meanwhile, Kathleen Townsend and her three roommates in downtown Philadelphia joined AirBnB to find a renter for the Papal visit. However, Townsend says, “We heard about all these people doing it and getting thousands of dollars, but we weren’t getting as much interest as we thought.” While their posting ($500 a night) didn’t get much attention for the Papal visit, someone did contact them for the recent Made In America festival concert. Townshend said they were nervous for a younger visitor, but the experience went well and there was no issue.
Finding new ways to earn a little extra money is great—especially when the opportunity presents itself. However, it is important to know what rules relate to your business ventures to avoid any problems. The city tax in Philadelphia makes it legal for people to rent out their apartments on AirBnB, but it’s important that hosts are well informed. Additionally, investing the extra money properly can help you maximize its potential for your personal wealth. If you’re interested in finding creative investment solutions to build your portfolio, contact an expert at Apex Financial Advisors today to get started.