Airbnb’s competition with Wyoming motels could ‘eviscerate’ hunting season lodging business

***For all things Wyoming, sign up for our daily newsletter***

By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
[email protected]

Airbnb and other similar online short-term rental sites have “dumped” hunting season activity at two lodges in Pinedale, one of the owners said.

“The short-term online rental business, Airbnb and the like, has totally gutted our hunting business,” Forest Wakefield of Pinedale told the Cowboy State Daily. He is co-owner of Gannett Peak Lodge and Log Cabin Motel.

Previously, hunters occupied most of the lodge’s 19 rooms and the motel’s 12 kitchenette cabins at this time of year, he said.

“Out of all these halls, I think I have one hunter right now,” he said Wednesday — a day before many of Wyoming’s archery and birdwatching seasons begin.

“It’s just one of those things,” he said. “People in town have always asked me about hunters. The return of the Hunters was one of those things that people were looking forward to. I’m just not the person to talk to about this anymore.

“I don’t think the hunters don’t come,” he added. “They just don’t stay in hotels and motels.”

Audrey Odermann of Pinedale, owner of Lakeside Lodge, agreed that hunters don’t seem to be a particularly big segment of fall activities, and haven’t been for some time.

“To be honest, we haven’t had a lot of hunter reservations,” she said in an email to the Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “That can of course change, but right now most of our fall is set aside for corporate retreats.”

Guides can make a difference

In Park County, hunters have been a segment of a jump in visitor traffic that typically begins after Labor Day weekend, Cody’s Ryan Hauck told the Cowboy State Daily. He is the executive director of the Park County Travel Council.

“Our walkways in Thermopolis and Meeteetse really seem to be enjoying the hunting season,” he said. “Here in Cody, we have great outfitting and guiding services, and they partner with the hotels.”

Indeed, many hunters traveling from out of state need a room for one night before meeting outfitters and guides to venture deep into the backcountry of the Greater Yellowstone region. , did he declare.

Wakefield agreed that guided hunters are more likely to rent rooms from him or other local motels in Pinedale.

“We have people who are connected to outfitters,” he said. “These people will spend a night with us before heading into the backcountry with their outfitter. What we don’t have much of anymore are people who would stay with us for a week while they go hunting on their own.

Out-of-state hunters must have a guide to hunt in one of Wyoming’s designated wilderness areas, per Wyoming Game and Fish Department regulations.

Non-hunters complete business

September after Labor Day is Park County’s second-busiest tourist month, Hauck said. Only July is busier.

“Once we get over the Labor Day hump, we see a lot of visitors,” he said. “We see baby boomers, empty nests, double-income couples without children and many international travelers. Basically everyone except families with school-aged children.

Wakefield said he still does great summer business with fly-fishing enthusiasts, backpackers and others. It could therefore be a question of attracting non-hunters in the fall.

“This (lower hunter rents) won’t put us out of business,” he said. “But it definitely affects us. This affects our fall plans.

***For all things Wyoming, sign up for our daily newsletter***