According to a new report in the New York Times, the hotel industry has a grand plan to disrupt Airbnb's business, and it's been pretty effective. Recent accomplishments include prompting senators to call for an FTC investigation and lobbying New York lawmakers to impose steep fines on Airbnb hosts that flout short-term housing laws.
The Times report plays nicely into Airbnb's narrative that "Big Hotel" is the engine behind its fiercest critics. But while the hotel industry is certainly acting out of competitive fear, that doesn't mean the questions it's raising aren't legitimate. We should be asking how Airbnb ensures the safety of its users. And we should continue to track its effects on housing markets in cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Yes, the majority of Airbnb hosts may be using the platform legitimately, but we don't know what effect even a small group of bad actors can have local housing markets, especially those with low vacancy rates. The hotel industry may have ulterior motives, but prompting regulators to consider the effects of a new type of industry—one that's growing as quickly as home-sharing—isn't such a bad thing.
[Source photo: Flickr user Jonathan Haeber] RR