If you’re out of town and visitors to Yellowknife need somewhere to stay, that’s a match made in heaven.
So says Yellowknife city councillor Adrian Bell, who wants more residents to sign up for Airbnb – a website that lets you rent out your home.
“Really, it’s a bit of a timeshare with somebody’s private residence,” said Bell. “So a condo owner who may not be in town for the week puts their unit up on Airbnb and they rent it out, basically, to strangers.”
Bell argues sites like this can have a big impact on tourism – the more places there are to stay, the more convinced people may be to visit.
But only nine people are currently offering homes or cabins in the Yellowknife area on Airbnb.
“When you’ve only got nine listings in a city the size of Yellowknife, it’s pretty clear people aren’t aware of it and aren’t aware of the benefits,” Bell told Moose FM.
“We haven’t been promoting it as a city and we should maybe talk to people about doing this.
“It’s really the ultimate mortgage helper and it’s something anyone who owns a property can do.”
Currently, Yellowknife locations available on Airbnb range from $50 to $225 per night. Airbnb says its ‘hosts’ – or people renting out their homes – have tools which let them accept bookings “only if you’re 100% comfortable”.
“You’ve got to have some proper contracts in place and you have to make arrangements for damage deposits, cleaning fees, things like that,” said Bell.
“But the beauty of it is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel – this exists and it’s being very well-utilized in other cities.
“It’s quite simple, it’s just a matter of a little bit of work to get your listing up there, and being careful with the paperwork.”
Bell believes improving the city’s presences on sites like Airbnb and TripAdvisor is “incredibly important” for tourism growth.
“People who are travelling research their destination and, until recently, we just didn’t have much content,” he said.
“As it stands right now, if you look at ‘things to do’ on TripAdvisor, there are 17 things to do in our city. Now clearly, we have a lot more things to do than 17, but you have to actually input this stuff.
“We want to be able to show people that we’ve got a lot of stuff for them to do. It’s important that we have a robust internet presence.”