JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas — When you think of popular Airbnb destinations, southeast Texas may not be the first place to come to mind. Recently, Airbnb announced that Jefferson County hosts earned a combined $245,000 and welcomed around 1,300 guests to the county in 2018.

Adam Martin is native Floridian, an Iraq War Combat Veteran and a lead singer and songwriter in a southern rock band. He’s also one of the many that booked Airbnb in Beaumont last year.

“We like to support local, you know, and if we are staying in a local Airbnb we know that that money also stays in the local economy,” said Martin.

His band, Blackbird Anthem, came to Beaumont for a gig at ExxonMobil. Martin said Airbnb is the band’s first choice when they travel for shows.

“We do shows as fundraisers for veteran nonprofit organizations, and try to help spread the message of some of the issues that are facing veterans today,” said Martin.

Martin said Airbnb gives them freedom hotels cant. For example, access to a washer and dryer, kitchen, and opportunity to practice before shows.

“Before a show we’ll get together and go over some songs, we’ll play a little bit, and you can’t really do that in a hotel room,” said Martin.

Richard Tallent is a computer programmer and artist. His wife Delanea is an interior designer. As a side hustle the host for Airbnb. Their garage apartment in Beaumont’s “Old Town” is the most popular Airbnb listing in Jefferson County.

“It’s been great, last year we had 108 people stay with us and people from, I think, 32 countries,” said Richard Tallent.

They started hosting for Airbnb after Harvey, when hotels were hard to come by. The first several months, most of their guests simply couldn’t find a hotel here. Since then, they’ve welcomed teachers on short term assignments, medical professionals, people coming in for ball tournaments and other local events, and more.

The Tallents enjoy giving people a unique experience they might miss staying a hotel. They like to give people information on things to do, and introduce them to southeast Texas culture.

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“We’ll say this is in walking distance, or here’s good if you want to eat the local cuisine, Cajun food, you know, go over here,” said Delanea Tallent.

Stephanie Molina is the director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau. She said the boost in Airbnb is beneficial to the southeast Texas economy as a whole.

“Anytime that a tourist comes into your city they spend money in your restaurants, they go shopping, and they drop new money into your economy, so that’s a very positive thing for Beaumont,” said Molina.

Molina explained that Airbnb hosts are offering a new way for people to experience a place. She feels they do a good job of helping people experience a place like a local.

“They are extending that welcome mat to the visitor and showing off southeast Texas hospitality, which is what we’re known for,” said Molina.

But what about the loss for hotels? Airbnb doesn’t collect the 15% hotel occupancy tax. Molina said that may be changing in the future.

Currently, Airbnb collects and remits the Texas state occupancy tax. That money doesn’t directly benefit the county. However, Molina said the rise in Airbnb usage hasn’t hurt the local hotel industry.

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hopes to work with Airbnb in the future.

“Tourism is all about relationships and welcoming people to your area, so we definitely serve to welcome everyone to Beaumont, we want them to have a good experience,” said Molina.  

There are about 50 Airbnb properties in Jefferson County listed on their website. Rates per night span from $15-$300. They offer everything from small private rooms and campers, to luxury suites and lavish lake houses. 

From an Airbnb Texas Public Affairs release:

Jefferson County Airbnb Hosts Earned $245,000 in 2018 Amid Continued Hotel Growth

BEAUMONT, TX -- Airbnb, the world’s leading community driven hospitality company, announced today that its Jefferson County host community earned a combined $245,000 in supplemental income while welcoming approximately 1,300 guest arrivals to the county in 2018.

This comes as Texans increasingly embrace the home sharing platform as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and make ends meet. There are now over 30,000 Texan residents who share their homes as Airbnb hosts, with the typical Jefferson County host typically earning about $3,200 annually in supplemental income.

Yet, statewide data indicates that Airbnb and its host community appear to be complementing -- rather than competing with -- the Texas and Greater Beaumont hotel industryAccording to the most recent state-commissioned Texas Tourism Report, Texas hotels are experiencing robust growth in overall development, nights sold, occupancy rate, and revenue -- in parallel with short-term rental growth. This suggests that Airbnb is opening up the region to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to be together under one roof.

In urban areas of Texas, the home sharing community provides significant value through expanded lodging capacity when hotels sell out during big events -- such as football games, festivals and conferences. Though Airbnb recently announced that the platform is experiencing its most robust growth within Texas’ rural counties, offering economic opportunity and new revenue to areas where traditional hotels are limited.

In addition to the new income going into the pockets of Texas Airbnb hosts, the state is generating new revenue through a tax agreement with the Texas Comptroller’s Office announced in 2017 that allows Airbnb to collect and remit the Texas state occupancy tax on behalf of its hosts. Earlier this year, Airbnb announced that it delivered $15.3 million in tax revenue to the state in the first year of that tax agreement, nearly doubling the initial projections.

Airbnb also significantly expanded Experiences throughout Texas in 2018, offering handcrafted activities led by local experts. Airbnb Experiences are creating new economic opportunities for Texans by allowing them to unlock their talents and interests and make money from them, catering to the hundreds of millions of people that use Airbnb’s platform to discover unique and authentic travel experiences. Experiences is expected to expand further in Texas in 2019, and the Experiences currently available can be found here.

Airbnb recently released a report announcing the #1 most wish-listed (i.e. popular or desired) Airbnb listings in the top 50 home sharing markets in Texas, including the #1 listing in Beaumont.

About Airbnb
Founded in 2008, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong through healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to 5+ million unique places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, Airbnb offers unprecedented access to local communities and interests through 15,000 unique, handcrafted activities run by hosts across 1,000+ cities around the world. Airbnb's people-to-people platform benefits all its stakeholders, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which it operates.