Airbnb boss slams “false choice” between home-shares and hotels

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.

Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson was the former editor of Accomnews.

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    1. Maurice which area are you in that your local Council are going to enforce this – it is supposed to happen here on the Gold Coast and wrote to our local Council over a month ago to ask them was this correct and they have not bothered to answer me so I am curious where you are located.

  1. For Hotels ,Motels and Apartments listing some of your inventory on AirBnB is wise.

    We are a self-contained property that now has many more Air BnB houses as competition so we now add some of our apartments on AirBNB. We like the pricing concept because the customer can see clearly what fee AirBnB adds on. Some are smart and check our Direct rate and save this additional cost. No Parity problems here.

    The only disappointment is AirBnB at this point does not have a live link option to our online res system so availability has to be monitored manually.

  2. From my perspective I want all hospitality providers to be on the same playing field.

    If Hotels have to pay commercial rates, install EWIS systems, have waste management programs, WHS regulations, designated parking spaces, pay license fees and taxes relevant to their business and have a commercial DA and OC approved then so should all AirBnB operators.

    From a residential point of view why should a neighbour have to tolerate noise, parking across their frontage or driveway, unloading and loading luggage at all hours of the night in front of their house due to no designated parking spaces and living where they thought was residential and now becoming a commercial environment.

    It’s interesting that residential houses do not have a DA to operate as a commercial accommodation provider but we are still having this debate. Short stay is 13 weeks with one lessee not nightly. Councils are breaching their own responsibilities under the DA compliance and should be shutting them down.

    AirBnB is killing the residential rental market with perspective buyers being sold on the idea of apartments can be rented as AirBnB! What happens to all the tenants looking for weekly/yearly rentals for the their families as they can not afford to buy a house. The rental market is at an all time low and AirBnB and unapproved operators in apartments are to answer for this shortfall and why rental prices are at an all time high where families simply can not afford to live.

    If AirBnB want to play in the accommodation market then accept the industry regulations and start making applications to council for a commercial DA and start implementing changes to met the same requirements that Hotels have to do.

  3. A level playing field is the right way to go, to line Airbnb up with other small 1-2 room operators, like BnBs That is, Council applies business rates to the property, Airbnb is taxed like other organisations (and yes include the OTAs), Airbnb operators submit tax returns including their business income, the ATO should make it abundantly clear via some some of advertising program that Airbnb will trigger capital gains tax down the track (some operators I have spoke with do not seem to think that renting out their property via Airbnb will trigger CGT), where relevant food authority inspections are carried out ie we are subject to a regular inspection because we provide breakfast hampers. I do not know of many of the non Airbnb operators that are afraid of the competition, personally we welcome more boutique, quirky operators into our area and is to our benefit too – just make it fair and reasonable competition.

  4. Let’s all see this as an opportunity. If we join Airbnb and list our apartments/rooms in our “resort”, Airbnb will have an abundance of stock and consumers who like using Airbnb will have more choice. Then hopefully the consumer will automatically start booking our apartments/resort rooms with a quality on site management service rather than trusting a random house at the end of a culdesac or someones spare room under the house. The clientele using Airbnb are not necessarily cheapskates, they are often travellers who simply don’t like booking via the giant OTAs and hence turn to Airbnb and Homeaway for a vacation home rather than a hotel. So let’s all jump on board and hopefully the one off homes will disappear on their own. My channel manager is connecting to them within the next couple of weeks, so I will certainly be joining them and enjoying lower commissions!

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