The FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil today, but thanks to online room sharing services such as Airbnb, many locals are already winning.
As international guests vied for space at hotels around the country, homeowners decided to make use of what they had. More than 60,000 tourists are expected to stay in Rio de Janeiro alone, but the city has only 55,400 hotel beds available, which leaves an open opportunity for home-sharing services around the country. The San Francisco-based company plans to welcome more than 120,000 unique visitors from more than 100 countries to Brazil during the World Cup this year -- a lucrative opportunity in a country with a GDP per capita of just over $11,000.
"Many hosts have been investing in their properties and preparing since 2013, so the World Cup is a huge opportunity for them," said Elliot Rosenberg, the American founder of Favela Experience, an online service that connects travelers with Airbnb listings in the city's tight-knit neighborhoods sometimes refered to as slums, in an effort to imrove perceptions and foster local businesses.
He said rates typically run around $20 per night, but have jumped to between $40 and $60 this month. It's enough to ensure that one host that will earn a third of her home's total value, while another will making enough money to pay rent for a year.
Many locals had already planned vacations or trips during the World Cup anyway, hoping to avoid the tourist crowds and bad traffic.
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“Those who are leaving are renting out their houses or apartments for the month,” said Santino Filoso, an English teacher currently living in Brazil. “I know a few people who aren’t traveling but are planning to rent out their house regardless and stay with their parents.”
This year alone, Airbnb has added more than 11,000 listings in Rio alone, and estimates that each host will earn an average of $3,000 for the month.
“We are thrilled that our community has embraced this opportunity to provide an authentic travel experience while expanding the tourist capacity of the host cities to ensure Brazil is the ultimate World Cup host,” Christian Gessner, Airbnb’s General Director for Brazil, said in a press release.
Even Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho used the service to rent out his home in Rio de Janeiro that boasts its own home theatre, gourmet kitchen and swimming pool, as well as “an exclusive stage to enjoy a good samba party with friends,” according to his listing, which lists a price of $15,000 per night.
But if the $15,000 per night price tag is too high, there are a great deal of budget-friendly options.
In Rio’s upscale neighborhoods, a three-bedroom residence goes for an average $1,565 per day during the World Cup. One listing shows a private room in Rocinha, one of the largest favelas in Rio, for $51. Just blocks away, the cheapest room at the Sheraton Rio Hotel & Resort starts at $300.