B&Bs: Don’t let Airbnb eat you for breakfast
Airbnb has taken the world by storm, but not without controversy.
NB: This is an opinion from Mary White, CEO of BnBFinder, bed-and-breakfast directory.
Just last week the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) announced its plans to fight back against Airbnb’s dubious, unregulated business practices.
The key players in the hospitality industry are taking sides, making arguments, or, at the very least, feeling the impact.
There is however, a smaller faction of the lodging industry that is suffering from Airbnb’s success, perhaps more than the other segments: the Bed & Breakfast industry.
The letters “BnB” have long been associated with Bed & Breakfasts and/or Country Inns, and as such, Airbnb’s name is causing serious damage to B&B brand identity, and sowing confusion among potential customers.
Airbnb properties are not B&B’s at all, but rather a diverse array of short-term rentals.
The definition of a B&B is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodations and breakfast. This is not a new concept by a long shot – B&Bs as they are known today have been around for decades.
Legitimate B&Bs not only serve breakfast, but are also licensed, inspected, and insured in order to protect guests. They are also required to pay a variety of taxes. Airbnb hosts do none of these things.
A name like B&B cannot be trademarked, which is how Airbnb was able to utilize the name. The name however is infringing upon an entire industry.
In an effort to crack down on unregulated rentals, cities such as New York have made it illegal for residential Class A buildings to have paying guests for fewer than 30 consecutive days.
The unintended consequence, however, has been the closure of many beloved, long-running and highly regarded NYC B&Bs.
Unlike the AH&LA, the Bed & Breakfast industry does not have deep pockets nor do they have an incorporated unifying association fighting on their behalf.
But that doesn’t mean their argument should not be heard – in fact, B&B industry stakeholders should be yelling the loudest.
The power and success of the Airbnb business model is without argument impressive. That said, competition and changing industry landscape is one thing, but suffocating an age-old form of hospitality because of an oversight in regulations and infringing on a brand is quite different.
Peter Scherman and Rick Wolf of The B&B Team, a consultancy, in the bed and breakfast industry with over 20 years of experience.
While recognizing the power of Airbnb in the industry and admiring the success of its business model, Rick and Peter are all too aware that the success coming to Airbnb is largely in part due to the public acceptance of the business model, which they contend is a major part of the brand infringement problem.
“We believe that all those who participate in Airbnb by providing rentable inventory should be held to the same standards of accountability as those they currently compete with.
The bottom line is that a level playing field honors the uniqueness of new and different places to stay while ensuring that travelers are protected and honest businesses are not hurt by an inequitable environment.”
NB: This is an opinion from Mary White, CEO of BnBFinder a US-based search and marketing agent for nearly 2,000 bed and breakfasts worldwide.
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Special Nodes is the byline under which Tnooz publishes articles by guest authors from around the industry.