American hotel association to fight Airbnb and short-term rentals
The hotel industry is finally mustering its considerable public relations and lobbying muscle to tackle the topic of short-term online rental companies, such as Airbnb.
In a message to its members yesterday, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), announced that it plans to work across the country to battle against the current practices of short-term rental companies.
The association, whose members represent 52,000 properties, says it has crafted a campaign to
“highlight the bad, unfair and in some cases unlawful business practices employed by short-term online rental companies and the lack of parity between safety, security, tax, and other requirements for hotels and short-term online rentals.”
Outtakes from the message tell the story:
In many markets, Airbnb and similar short-term online rental marketplaces are technically illegal, but lax enforcement of existing laws has allowed these entities to grow exponentially in size.
Their increasing popularity, together with unclear regulatory structures, has prompted many local governments to examine new ways to tax and regulate these companies.
Airbnb has led aggressive outreach programs in several cities, engaging local officials, agreeing to collect and pay some taxes, and pushing for favorable rewrites of local planning law.
To counter these actions, AH&LA is working to drive the short-term rental company debates. Our plan includes:
Together with our partner states, identifying target cities and localities where we can engage in select tax, safety, and health fights at the council level to pre-empt other deals being sought by short-term online rental companies;
Creating a feedback loop at the federal level between Congress and federal agencies, and pushing legislation ensuring laws regulating hotels are applied equally to short-term online rental companies;
Highlighting the tremendous innovation within the hotel sector; and
Raising enforcement concerns regarding the lack of compliance by short-term online rental companies with areas including provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, safety, occupancy rules, and tax reporting.
Airbnb and its competitors have, to date, short-circuited much of the hostile energy coming from traditional hospitality players.
But it may need to have to up its game, as resistance to short-term rental grows stronger.
(A spokesperson for Airbnb could not be reached for comment before press time.)
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.