It seems like everyone in the hospitality industry talks about the effects of AirBnB on our businesses, but what can actually be done about it? The American Hotel and Lodging Association laid out a plan to their Board. It is a “multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level.”
The main prongs of the association’s plan to constrain Airbnb include lobbying politicians and state attorneys general to reduce the number of Airbnb hosts, funding studies to show Airbnb is filled with people who are quietly running hotels out of residential buildings and highlighting how Airbnb hosts do not collect hotel taxes and are not subject to the same safety and security regulations that hotel operators must follow.
Last year three senators asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how AirBnB negatively effects rising housing costs. A New York governor also signed a bill that applies big fines to hosts that break local housing rules. The hotel association said that was part of their plan.
Other parts of the plan include continued research into the negative effects of AirBnB and forming alliances with politicians, affordable housing groups, neighborhood associations, and hotel labor unions to strengthen their base of influence and support.
The Association has met with the Attorney Generals and legislators of many states to talk about how AirBnB hosts frequently don’t comply with the same rules that are imposed on hotels, like fire and safety standards, local tax collection and anti-discrimination laws. The annual budget for regulatory work is about a $5.6M USD, so they have some resources for these efforts.
They also want to utilize research in an anti-AirBnB campaign to promote the idea that AirBnB hosts ruin the housing market, and are therefore NOT supporters of “mom and pop” trying to make some extra money on the side as commonly believed by many. To this end they want to launch a testimonial page of people who have been hurt by home sharing.
I wonder if we’ll start to see more videos like this one in 2017
Do you think a widespread smear campaign against AirBnB will have any effect on the general population’s view of home sharing or their use of the site?
I don't know why a hostel should be concerned with Airbnb. I see lots of hostels advertising on that platform, both shared rooms and private rooms and when you compare the fees charged verses standard OTA's you are doing yourself a disservice not to. It's your marketing skills that will drive those customers at that price point to your property. Yes Airbnb property owners should be made to pay there fair share of taxes and many places are doing so, governments are catching on and they NEVER lose a chance to get more money, just takes time. Airbnb isn't going away and smart operaters will figure out how to benefit from that platform.
I don't know why a hostel should be concerned with Airbnb. I see lots of hostels advertising on that platform, both shared rooms and private rooms and when you compare the fees charged verses standard OTA's you are doing yourself a disservice not to.
A very good point! The commissions charged by AirBnB are significantly lower than those taken by other OTAs. It makes sense for hostel operators to utilize the platform.
The problem is that the other hosts are not required to play by the same rules. And the OTAs noticed and wanted a piece of the action. OTAs don’t care what kind of accommodation you book, as long as you book it on their site and they get their commission. Since the legal hammer didn’t come down as hard as might have been expected on AirBnB or its non-tax-paying hosts, sites like Booking also jumped on the bandwagon and started listing home share properties to get a cut of that sweet Sharing Economy pie. THAT’S when the hotels really started getting pissed off, because until recently everyone was required to prove that they operated a legitimate registered business. Now it’s a free-for-all on the formerly-hotel booking sites and the hotels are losing money to illegal competitors. AirBnB was just the catalyst, but it’s still their fault, right? So let’s get them!!
In general I think hostels are quicker to adapt to things like AirBnB than hotels are. While the American Hotel and Lodging Association goes after AirBnB with their fangs bared, hostels jump on board and list their dorms and private rooms next to Aunt Ethel’s spare bedroom and the hipsters’ luxury flat with the Jacuzzi. And everyone is cool with it. In reality, the hostels may be the only legal listings on the site. We’re probably losing money to our neighbors too, but if all the non-tax-paying properties vanished overnight due to severe legal actions, we would probably be the only ones left in any given city. That would be good for business. But that’s not likely to happen any time soon, so for now we accept that our neighbors will inevitably win some of our less hostel-loyal guests and their money.
So the questions becomes “what can we do to maximize the opportunities presented to us by AirBnB?”
As TropicBound mentioned, our marketing skills will be our salvation. What value do you offer that your neighbor can’t? Fantastic atmosphere? Fancy amenities? Beautiful rooms? 24-hour local knowledge? And is that clearly communicated on your AirBnB listing? Why is your hostel a better choice than the apartment next door? How does the experience in your hostel let a traveler “live like a local” better than they would on their own in an unfamiliar city? Demonstrate that, and you can win the AirBnB game.
Hostels seem to be in a unique situation in this AirBnB conflict. We can join hotels in the fight against illegal accommodation options. We can list our properties side by side with those illegal accommodation options and win business away from them. And if those illegal accommodation options get closed down, we can still remain as the legal choice for travelers. It seems like a win-win-win situation for hostels, right?
Partnering with Hotel associations that lobby against Airbnb's is like David joining forces with Goliath to take on the king. Most hostel in the US, with exception to HI's, operate under the radar of zoning and regulation (read illegal) and also don't pay their fair share of occupancy taxes. While Airbnb works to change these rules to allow hosts and hostels with local organizations, hostel operators will expose themselves to this vulnerability. Will the hotels help out their partners in the fight, certainly not.
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