Airbnb popularity is on the rise in western Mass. ahead of leaf peeping season

Western Mass News is getting answers on why so many are turning to home-sharing stays like Airbnbs rather than hotels.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:06 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - It has been less than one week since the official start of fall, which is a popular time for tourists to flock to New England, especially here in western Massachusetts.

However, where are all these visitors staying?

Western Mass News is getting answers on why so many are turning to home-sharing stays like Airbnbs rather than hotels.

“Anywhere in New England in the fall is gorgeous,” said Springfield Airbnb host Kristen Tortoriello.

Fall foliage has not peaked yet, but leaf peepers will soon be on their way. During the autumn months, western Massachusetts typically sees an influx of visitors from near and far, but with more travelers comes a need for more places to stay.

“You can find Airbnb hosts and listings in many towns where there are no hotels or where there are very few hotel options,” said Airbnb’s Director of Trust and Safety Communications Ben Breit. “There are plenty of great options throughout the more rural parts of Massachusetts.”

Airbnb is a home-sharing and short-term rental company founded in 2008 with rentals in over 220 countries and 100,000 cities big and small.

However, in recent years, the booking company has drastically expanded, and one of the driving factors is the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As people were looking to get out of their homes, but wanted to do so in a safe and responsible way, they found that they could do so in an Airbnb listing,” Breit told us. “Socially distancing, and not being in a crowded hotel at a time, where many folks were uncomfortable with that.

Breit told Western Mass News that as the popularity for the company grows, they are working to ensure a pleasant stay for both guests and hosts, which includes no parties.

A new feature added to Airbnb listings in Massachusetts and across the country is anti-party technology. It provides tools to identify high-risk reservations and stop them from going through.

“So what this technology does, it looks at certain tributes of the reservation which could be indicative of a non-authorized party,” Breit explained. “Every once in a while, there are folks who are not looking for the right reasons for not being honest about their intentions, and who might be trying to throw an unauthorized party, so it is a big priority for us to try to the best of our abilities to stamp that out.”

The technology requires guests to verify that they are who they say they are, looking at how long guests are looking to rent for, the location, the age of the guests, and how long they have had an account with Airbnb.

However, for Kristen Tortoriello, her experience as an Airbnb host has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s perfect,” she told us. “It’s a nice little quiet area to study and it’s off campus away from the chaos.”

Totoriello bought the property with her husband in the fall of 2018, hoping to provide a welcoming place for visitors in western Massachusetts.

She told us that her list of guests ranges from doctors and nurses during the peak of the pandemic to families with kids to Big E vendors and students.

“We do get people traveling to hike and things like that,” she said. “We have Monson Academy right over the border, and we have had two families come already and stay for a couple of nights, helping their children move in, and we have Western New England University right here.”

Tortoriello said that she prefers a short-term rental over a hotel because she appreciates the personal feel of a home.

“I love getting to know the hosts and hearing why they host and seeing the different things they do, and then bringing the good stuff,” she said. “You know, the stuff that I like to see, to my Airnnb.”

Breit said that he only sees their popularity increasing.

“What we’re really seeing and anticipating is the travel rebound of the century,” he told us. “We are seeing a lot of folks who are just kind of going to really scenic lake towns and mountains, wherever it may be, not just for three days, but maybe for three months. And if you were staying for that long, we really do want the comforts of a home.”