As election season draws to a close, the residents of DC begin to look to the future…or at least to January. January 20th to be specific. As big of a day as Election Day is, Inauguration Day is a much bigger deal in the District.
DC all but shuts down in the days leading up to inauguration; downtown businesses are closed, security is tight and January 20th is a local holiday for Federal employees.
Additionally, an influx of out-of-town visitors descend upon the city to participate in all manner of celebration to honor the newly elected Commander in Chief.
In 2009, for President Obama’s first inauguration, the Washington Post reported that 1.8 million people were in attendance, making it the largest audience for any event ever held in DC. Obama’s second inauguration in 2013 drew a smaller crowd of 800,000 people and it’s safe to assume that the 2017 inauguration will see attendance numbers somewhere between that range.
Given that DC has a population of only 650,000 people, there will be a LOT of visitors looking for accommodations in the city. According to Urban Turf, 95 percent of Expedia hotel listings in DC for inauguration weekend are already booked and prices on remaining rooms have started to soar.
In 2009, a fledgling company by the name of Airbnb was still in its infancy and according to their estimates, about 150 people used the site to book lodging for inauguration. In 2013, that number jumped to 2,000 – an over 1200% increase.
Already, there are over 1,000 rentals listed on Airbnb for inauguration weekend, many requiring a three or four night stay and asking upwards of 4x the average nightly rate. Airbnb data shows (unsurprisingly) that Capitol Hill is the most desirable neighborhood for rentals, followed closely by Shaw and Dupont Circle.
Across the city rental rates vary widely, from a modest 1-bedroom basement apartment in Trinidad for $191 per night to a $4267 per night 4-bedroom luxury townhome in Shaw featuring a chef’s kitchen, two master suites and a private roof deck.
At $750 per night options include a 2-bedroom townhome with a private patio in Georgetown or a cozy studio in Capitol Hill with views of the Capitol Building. $950 per night produces options like a 1-bedroom apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows located three blocks from Union Station or a top floor 1-bedroom condo with open floor plan and a private deck in Mount Vernon Square.
A search of “inauguration” in the Housing section of Craigslist only yields 18 listings currently and most of these require weekly or monthly stays.
With hotels already nearing capacity for inauguration weekend, it’s clear that the market for private short-term guest stays has the potential to be huge. The only question that remains is if visitors will be willing to pay the unabashedly inflated and arbitrarily set prices put forth by DC residents.