Persons attending the 2015 Outside Lands Music and Art Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco had a range of lodging options. One of relatively new lodging options available was staying at non-commercial residences with a fee, also known as “vacation rentals.” Vacation rentals (VR), where a tourist rents a room or entire house from a private individual for a short term stay, are booming, especially at online booking sites, such as Air BNB. There are over a million rentals listed on Air BNB and its growth has been stunning (Weed 2015). Mayock (2015) found that vacation rentals are competing directly with traditional hotel, motels and resorts. Identifying the characteristics of the vacation rental industry has been the most frequent type of study. However, little research on vacation rental users has been published. Geron (2013) suggested travelers staying in VRs desire to stay with a local, in a neighborhood and with a local who can give tips on the area. Legrand, Meier and Sloan (2015) determined four VR travelers were motivated primarily by the potential for saving money, but their small sample size limits its validity. Additional information on the users of vacation rentals is needed to determine if they are different from traditional lodging users. A comparison of VR users and non-users visiting the same destination is needed to verify if VR users are unique. In this study persons who attended the 2015 Outside Lands Music Festival and did and did not stay at a VR in San Francisco were surveyed to determine their age, education, household income, residence location, type of lodging used. Those respondents who rented a VR were sent a follow-up survey to gather information about the types of VR units rented, motivations for renting, and their evaluation of the vacation VR experience. VR users and non-users had similar averages, 28.5 years and 28.3 years and nearly the same education levels. Findings from the follow-up VR user survey showed 93% of the bookings were made through Air BNB. Survey respondents spent an average of 3.3 nights in a VR during the three day event. 65% of VR users lived in California outside the San Francisco Bay area. 60.3% rented an entire house or apartment, versus 39.7% who rented a private or shared room. 72.9% indicated the primary reason for staying at a VR versus a hotel was cost savings. However, the VR was conveniently located near the event or transportation to it (40.7%); preference to stay in a home versus a commercial property (39.2%); the personality of the VR neighborhood (39.0%); and more space for their group (32.2%) were also frequently mentioned. 23.7% of VR users indicated that a reason for staying at a VR was they could not find an available motel/motel in the city. Nearly 71% of respondents indicated they felt about the same level of safety in the VR as they do in a hotel/motel. The primary reasons for feeling unsafe were: Lack of parking nearby and need to walk long distances to park; the neighborhood felt unsafe; they felt vulnerable to attack; weird or creepy people in the building; the building was not well lighted and it was difficult to find their way around; their room was not secure from intruders; and the building was not well maintained. Findings suggest there is little demographic difference between VR users and non-users at this event. The types of VR rentals, reasons for staying in them, and their evaluation of the VR experience are provided. Additional research is needed to determine if these results are similar in other locations and for other types of travelers.


Vacation rental, short term rental, vacation, lodging, impact, motivation, evaluation, San Francisco, regulation, safety, neighborhood, vacation, travel