Airbnb faces worldwide opposition and plans to defend
After suffering tough regulation, Airbnb decides to set up homesharing clubs to enable homeowners have their unified voice.
In the back room of a pub in Kentish Town, a group of middle-class Londoners are perched on velvet-covered stools, eating hummus and talking about property. On the wall, above a pile of empty beer kegs, a slide presentation is in progress. A video of Airbnb’s recent advert shows smiling hosts opening their front doors and declaring their support for Sadiq Khan’s post-Brexit “London is open” campaign.
The audience of Airbnb hosts are there after receiving individual invitations from the company to a “home sharers” meet-up – a concept largely unfamiliar to the slightly bemused crowd. Jonathan, an enthusiastic Californian Airbnb employee, who was recently seconded to London to set up the clubs, is happy to explain: “Homesharing clubs are simply a way of organising this into something … that has a unified voice … then actually takes actions as a collective,” he says, in a less than clear answer.
More simply, homesharing clubs are advocacy groups made up of Airbnb hosts – loose, informal lobbying groups that push the company’s agenda to politicians. The clubs are part of a what is fast becoming a concerted fightback by Airbnb, the website founded in 2008 when three college friends rented out air mattresses in their San Francisco flat as a way of making money, to become one of the biggest online travel brands in the world.
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