Letter: Short-term rentals operate much differently than hotels do

Over and over I hear there is “no difference” between a short-term rental and a hotel business because they both receive revenue from nightly stays and STR hosts don’t contribute “their fair share.” Please consider the following.

1. An STR operator may seek to rent out their property 55 nights out of 365 nights a year or 15%. For many hotels, an ideal occupancy rate is between 70% and 95% or at least 255 nights a year. Boy, that’s a big difference. 

2. Perhaps it has something to do with a difference in their raison d’etre. The STR host’s primary motivation is to enjoy a home in Steamboat Springs. STR nightly rental revenue is a means to subsidize the cost of maintenance of their home. Many STR hosts accept they may or may not “break even” any year. The hotel operator seeks a profit; Not “break even.”

3. The STR host doesn’t contribute their “fair share.” I would argue the true contribution of STR hosts is not accounted for in economic benefit analysis because they contribute free labor. A stay-at-home mother contributes free labor. The hotel operation has paid employees. Many STR hosts contribute their own labor for free. The STR host does not receive the benefit of a tax deduction for their labor. 

Conclusion: The STR host is more like primary residence neighbors than hotel operators.

Ruthann Fischer


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