Home sharing service Airbnb has experienced massive growth in Missouri over the past year.

Airbnb logo – Image courtesy of Airbnb

The company’s host community in the state – those who rent out their houses or extra bedrooms – doubled to 2,100 people. Over the same period, Airbnb guest arrivals in Missouri grew by 166 percent.

Spokesperson Ben Breit says the state is outperforming its neighbors and most every other market in embracing the service.  “Missouri is a state above almost all others that is experiencing this overwhelming growth.”

Missourians who rented out their residences through Airbnb made a combined $13.1 million this year.  More than 65 percent of the business – $8.6 million – took place in the two large cities of St. Louis and Kansas City.  79,000 of the 124,000 guest arrivals occurred in the two cities.

“A city like St. Louis, for example, with all the universities, lots of industrial growth, they’re having a lot of big events” said Breit. “The ability for home sharing to expand the lodging capacity and welcome as many people as possible. That could be a factor why we’re seeing that type of growth.”

Breit notes although growth was biggest in the large urban areas, it was also strong in smaller cities.  “Beyond that kind of first tier of the largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, (we’re) seeing this type of growth in Branson and Columbia and Springfield, really great communities that aren’t as well known outside of Missouri.  (They’re) really able to take advantage of tourism, and they’ve latched onto it”

Airbnb was founded in 2008.  It’s stated mission is “to create a world where people can belong when they travel by being connected to local cultures and having unique travel experiences”.

The company supplies insurance for its residents who provide dwelling spaces.  Breit says it provides a $1 million “host” guarantee should anything go wrong at any of the properties.  He admits that anything that can happen at a hotel can happen at an Airbnb rented space.  The company vets both its hosts and guests by conducting background checks.

At this point, the hosts are responsible for complying with local laws that apply to lodging.  The hosts are required to collect taxes in compliance with their states and local jurisdictions.  Breit says the company is engaged with thousands of communities in an effort to take over the handling of taxes.  He claims Airbnb has had productive conversations at the state level in Missouri, and as well as with policy makers in St. Louis and Kansas City over the issue.