Property owners on PEI invest in latest tourism trend
The New Creative
by Cassandra Bernard
In 2017 PEI hosted over one million visitors, setting its fourth straight tourism record.
The number of Airbnb accommodation listings in the province has also set a record, with over 300 listings from tip to tip. This new popularity in Airbnb has created new possibilities for tourists travelling here, and it also provided a new tourism market for Islanders.
Leslie Beck began listing her property five years ago on Airbnb as a way to supplement her income. She rented her spare room and in return, her bills were mostly paid for that summer. Beck realized she had a unique business opportunity on her hands. She continued renting out other properties during the summer, but this year she will begin managing other peoples’ properties as well.
With over 15 years of experience in hospitality and customer service, she created Host, a tourism property management company. Islanders who currently list on Airbnb most likely manage their own properties making sure their guests are happy and content, which can sometimes be a lot of work. The idea behind Host is that listers can now turn to Beck to take care of everything for them.
Beck says travelling Airbnb is a whole other experience for families coming to PEI. They could either stay in a hotel, or they could stay in a house in the core of Downtown Charlottetown. “As a frequent traveller myself, I have immensely appreciated the ability to stay in residential neighbourhoods. It creates a more honest experience of a place by allowing you to feel more like a local than a tourist. Truly priceless. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for hotels, but it’s great to have the option of staying in a home in a nice neighbourhood with a kitchen, a back yard, a local park and neighbours you can stop and chat with while barbecuing on the deck.”
Beck has been able to create full-time employment as a peripheral business to Airbnb, and it has greatly benefitted her. She opened her doors, and her heart, to complete strangers. She has also created a new community, where she is able to offer all of her favourite things about Charlottetown.
Beck notes that tourism rentals have allowed many homeowners with prime historical properties in the downtown core to invest back into their properties: “Restorations they could not have afforded without the additional income of their tourist rentals.”
It has also provided work for cleaners, electricians, plumbers, photographers and more.
She herself has invested in her properties, spending money and time to make them comfortable and accommodating. “I really like that aspect of tourism rentals in general, it is helping to create a more beautiful and inviting city.”