Thursday, March 1, 2018


Beginning just 10 years ago, Airbnb offered travelers 3 short term rental categories: shared space (couch/airbed), private room, or entire home. Ever since, Airbnb has been expanding their lodging portfolio, noting what types of properties received good reviews/ratings, and noting that potential guests were not finding a match to their preferences and leaving the site. Last week, 4 new categories were formally announced: Vacation Homes, Unique Spaces, Bed & Breakfasts, and Boutiques (hotels).

"Airbnb Plus" joins the "SuperHost" category in a quest to meet guests' desire for higher quality accommodations in response to their finding that 73% of Airbnb guests said they'd pay more for a vetted property. In fact, "Airbnb Plus" requires a personal visit by an Airbnb 'inspector' with a 100-point checklist in hand. Only then will the property be verified for quality and comfort (e.g. 'fresh matching towels', 'working appliances'). To start, 2000 homes in 13 cities will be (actually already have been) selected; US cities are Austin TX, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto. Presently, 204,000 rooms from B&Bs / Hotels are listed on Airbnb, of the 4.5 million properties on the site.

Despite acknowledging the need - and the public's preference - for vetting and a standard of quality, Airbnb did not reveal any requirements regarding compliance in licensing / registration (as per statues and local regulations), zoning, insurance, taxation, etc. We're disappointed.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released the following statement from its Vice President of State and Local Government Affairs, Troy Flanagan, in regards to Airbnb's announcement about launching its new Airbnb Plus and Boutique programs.

"Whether it's called Plus or Boutique program, Airbnb's latest scheme is just further proof the company is trying to play in the hoteling space while evading industry regulations," Flanagan said. "If Airbnb wants to enter the hoteling business, then it needs to be regulated, taxed, and subject to the same safety compliances and oversight that law-abiding hotel companies adhere to each and every day."

"The question that cities and neighborhoods should be asking-will these 'Plus' or 'Boutique' listings include commercial operators exploiting Airbnb's platform to run illegal hoteling schemes that have fractured our communities, raised serious safety concerns and increased the price of rent while depleting affordable housing options," Flanagan added.

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