Airbnb gets conciliatory toward cities with new pledge
Airbnb released a “community compact” today, promising to work more closely with municipalities, regulators, and communities.
CEO Brian Chesky wrote a company’s blog on the topic as well, summarizing the key pledges this way:
We are committed to treating every city personally and helping ensure our community pays its fair share of hotel and tourist taxes.
We are committed to being transparent with our data and information and we will help cities understand the home sharing activity in their community while simultaneously honoring our commitment to protect our hosts’ and guests’ privacy.
In cities where there is a shortage of long-term housing, we are committed to working with our community to prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability of long term housing by ensuring hosts agree to a policy of listing only permanent homes on a short-term basis.
The message is more conciliatory than the assertive tone Chesky struck in a CNBC interview the day after his company effectively showed its political clout in turning out San Francisco voters to reject a proposed anti-Airbnb law.
The company seems to be alternating between taking a hard and soft line with communities, many of which either don’t have regulations in place to deal with the practicalities of short-term rental housing or whose regulations are restrictive about how such rentals can operate.
Consider one of its statements today about taxes:
“In those places that respect the right of people to share their home, we will work to ensure that the Airbnb community pays its fair share of taxes while honoring our commitment to protect our hosts’ and guests’ privacy. This includes helping to ensure the efficient collection of tourist and/or hotel taxes in cities that have such taxes.”
Some critics might balk at such language, saying that complying with laws about tax collection is compulsory and not negotiable.
Others may welcome Airbnb’s fresh commitment to data sharing and transparency, such as its promise to release statistics, per location, on the number of days a typical listing is rented on Airbnb, the total number of Airbnb guests who visited a city, the average number of guests per listing by city, the average number of days the average guest stayed in a city, and “the safety record” of Airbnb listings.
The full community compact document is available as a PDF, here.
A just-released STR Global study found that Airbnb rates in London, as in New York, tend to be higher than average daily hotel rates, when measured a district-by-district basis.
But such data hasn’t reassured some hotel groups, who fear that Airbnb’s threat to them long-term is structural in terms of its dynamic supply.
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