EXCLUSIVE: Should Airbnb face the same regulations as hotels?

It’s the question on everybody’s lips now that the online accommodation portal has become a household name. accomnews recently sat down with boutique hotel developer and chief executive officer of 8hotels, Paul Fischmann to discuss some key industry issues.

We asked whether he saw Airbnb as a threat and his response got us thinking: will there be a noticeable shift in the accommodation market or will the playing field naturally level out?

Mr Fischmann said: “It’s a good question. If I had the choice, I would prefer Airbnb not to be around but at the same time I think that it has probably created a new market that didn’t exist before it came along.

“I’m referring to shared accommodation where you basically get a room in someone’s property rather renting their whole property. I don’t think this takes away from traditional hotels.”

As a ‘new market’ it would seem that Airbnb properties are not strictly made to follow the same rules and regulations as hotels and other commercial accommodation providers in Australia.

When accomnews questioned Airbnb about this, asking how it would respond to tighter regulations we got the following response.

“We have a positive relationship with the Australian government and welcome fair and progressive rules and regulation that continue to allow everyday Australians the ability to list their homes on Airbnb.”

It is not entirely clear what regulations the online firm is held to. According to its website, hosts have a responsibility to check their local regulations and make sure they adhere to tax, permits or registrations, as well as rent control rules.

There are also guidelines and rules posted to the website about safety and insurance policies. However, it seems there is no regulating body overseeing the site in the same way guests would expect commercial hotels to be regulated.

Mr Fischmann added: “Although I am in a competing business, I don’t think that it’s an enormous threat although I do think that it needs to be regulated somehow because there should be a level playing field.

“Ultimately, if these accommodation facilities are going to be used as hotel rooms then they really should be run by the same regulations that traditional hotels are run by. Then again it’s very tricky so I think the world will struggle to work it all out. It’s not stopping us from moving forward, put it that way.”

Check out our full Q&A with Paul Fischmann in our upcoming issue of Accom Management Guide.


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