No, it wasn’t your imagination. Bellingham was bustling with people over the weekend.
With the Western Washington University graduation and the typical late spring events like weddings, it was a challenge for those visiting the area to find a last-minute place to stay.
“We didn’t have a room to sell on Friday or Saturday,” said Craig Schultz, director of sales at the Bellingham Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel in the north part of Bellingham. Hotel staff tried to help people find rooms nearby, but found most Bellingham hotels also were booked solid.
This past weekend also was a boon for Airbnb hosts. The company put together a study that found that nearly 650 Airbnb guests arrived in the region, a 68 percent increase compared to the previous weekend.
Airbnb hosts in the Bellingham area earned a total of $136,000, with the typical host getting $400, according to the report – the past weekend was one of the biggest ever for Bellingham Airbnb hosts, said Laura Rillos, a spokeswoman for the company.
The company has seen a steady increase of Airbnb hosts in Bellingham, with the number of active members up to 390. According to Rillos, about 70 percent of hosts are women and 60 percent are over 50, highlighting how home sharing is being used as a way to “age in place” for many long-time residents.
While many of the guests were parents, graduation weekend also attracts many other relatives to Bellingham, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, Burns said. That also made for a busy weekend for its new restaurant, B-Town Kitchen & Raw Bar.
Schultz said the busy season usually starts June 1 and remains strong until Oct. 1.
“But this was a really big weekend for Bellingham,” Schultz said.