We’re going to take a wild guess here: your travel and hospitality clients hate Airbnb.
Why wouldn’t they? Vacationers and business travelers alike are quite keen on the idea of saving time and money by renting someone’s room for a few days. Despite the fact that this subletting practice is illegal in some states, recent cases reveal that the government and the hotel industry may not have much power to stop it.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman wants to crack down on Airbnb just like he cracked down on the firms that pay for fake client reviews on Yelp and Amazon, but the courts have told him “not so fast”. And just like the “reputation firms”, these newfangled sublet companies will almost certainly keep popping up.
The city recently fined a resident $2400 for renting his room out on Airbnb, but the Environmental Control Board ruled that the fine wasn’t justified “because a permanent occupant of the apartment was present during the rental period”. While that ruling looks like a PR win for the company, it remains something of an outlier because most occupants obviously aren’t around during a rental period. In other words, expect more lawsuits to come.
If you have any hotel clients then this should be a story of great interest to you. Companies like Airbnb may not destroy their industry, but it’s safe to say that the future of their business model is at stake. These brands need to start showing customers exactly why they’re worth the extra money, and they need to do it soon.