Almost 20,000 people have booked rooms for Jazz Fest on Airbnb, 2.5 times as many as in 2015, even as traditional bed and breakfast operations are reporting vacancies for the first time in recent memory.
The dichotomy is sure to add fuel to the already sizzling debate over short-term rentals in New Orleans.
The listing website, which released the numbers Friday April 22, touted the booking statistics as evidence that private home rentals benefit cities by allowing them to add capacity during major tourism events.
Some of the bookings, though, appear to be coming at the expense of legally operating bed and breakfast owners, who are subject to taxes, business licenses, and other restrictions.
"For the first time in 18 years, I have empty rooms for Jazz Fest," said Bonnie Rabe, owner of the Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast and head of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans, a local trade group. "They have been all over the news saying that Jazz Fest is going to be bigger than ever, with more people than ever," she said in a phone interview. "But a fifth of our members have vacancies. That's unprecedented."