Airbnb’s regional chief says the home-share giant wants to work with accommodation houses, not replace them.
In a keynote address at the Tourism and Transport Forum’s Outlook 2018, country manager Sam McDonagh described as “fundamentally flawed” the idea that Airbnb’s rise would cause other industry players to sink.
He called on the hospitality industry to end the war between Airbnb and traditional operators and collaborate to provide more options for visitors.
“This false choice hasn’t served anyone in the tourism industry or community particularly well and has certainly distracted us from focusing on areas of mutual interest,” he told delegates.
“What’s more, the move by some traditional hospitality providers into short-term accommodation casts further doubts on this false choice.
“A key challenge for the tourism industry is to once-and-for-all end this wrong and unhelpful idea that tourism is a zero-sum game.”
Mr McDonagh urged delegates to question the strategy of industry lobby groups seeking more regulation for Airbnb, saying they served their own members poorly by “stubbornly refusing to recognise the changing nature of travel”.
Instead, he said, they should be arguing for better regulation for all industry players.
A growing chorus of voices, including the peak representative body the Accommodation Association of Australia, is calling for Airbnb to be included in government plans to tax offshore bookings agencies at the same rate as Australian companies from 2019.
And individual states are preparing to cap the number of nights private homes can be rented out through Airbnb to prevent the loss of housing stock to holiday lets.
Mr McDonagh urged greater collaboration between the tourism industry and sharing economy when it comes to advocacy.
“It remains as true as ever that a rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.
“We all share a common interest in ensuring Australia remains a destination of choice for years, for decades to come.”
And he outlined the opportunities for traditional hospitality providers to partner with Airbnb in listing their “local, unique and authentic travel” options with the offshore home-share company.
There are more than 300,000 rooms in boutique hotels, B&Bs and traditional hospitality providers listed on Airbnb.