A few years back I wrote a post lamenting Yellowknife's lack of participation on websites such as Yelp! and TripAdvisor. I'm happy to report that since then (Oct 2010), our number of "Things to Do" on TripAdvisor has jumped from 6 to 17. That's not a complete inventory by any means, but it's a great improvement. Unfortunately I didn't record the number of restaurants back then but I recall it being very low. We're now at 57. And the reviews have been pouring in as well, thanks in part to a TripAdvisor campaign by City Hall.
I think it's safe to say that by the TripAdvisor metric, Yellowknife has arrived.
So what's next? Well, we appear to be far behind most Canadian tourist destinations in the use of private accommodations websites such as Airbnb. This is actually quite amazing given the number of condos that have been built in our city in the last few years. Many of them are held as investment properties but they are rented on a long-term basis. I'm not sure why this is the case. There is no better return on investment than nightly rentals and it has been made incredibly easy thanks to websites like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway.
And rental properties owners are just one category of potential Airbnb entrepreneurs. Shift workers and other frequent travellers are the other big one. Heading up to the mine for two weeks? Rent your place out while you're way, with cleaners and a property manager handling all the details you may not want to handle yourself.
If we're lagging behind on short-term condo rentals, we haven't even left the starting line when it comes to private cabins. There is no better way to experience Yellowknife and the North in general than to rent a cabin for a couple nights. But how does one go about doing this? You do have the option of flying, skiing or snowmobiling to nearby Namushka Lodge, but if tourists are looking to rent cabins closer to town, they are pretty much out of luck. There is one cabin on flipkey.com, but that's it. Or at least that's all I can find. If readers are aware of other options, please send then to me via the "comments" field below.
Clearly, if we're going to mature as a tourist destination, we have to do better than 9 listings on Airbnb, 1 on VRBO and zero on Homeway. We need to get more condos on there, and definitely many more cabins. I think the only way to start this project is to spread the word. Let's get on it!