Airbnb, the sharing and location of flat website, has become an unavoidable actor on the tourism market. It has changed our way of travelling. It is growing up very fast and the trend doesn’t seem to stop. Most of the time, clients are very happy with it; but on the other hand, cities, hotels and touristic locations are economically and politically threatened by this quick success. The case will speak about Airbnb, but it also concerns its concurrent such as Housetrip.
Results of the studies
First of all: what is the problem?
The first issue concerns the cities directly. As in every city, the government tries to supply its entire inhabitants with decent lodgings, therefore requiring laws or building new flats. But in popular touristic cities such as New York, Paris or Berlin, a lot of good flats in the centre of the city are nowadays used only for touristic purposes, which is not helping the demographical and lodging issues of a city.
The second issue comes from the professionals of tourism, unsatisfied of this new concurrence which doesn’t have the same standards and controls like a hotel or pension has. The comparison of the prices of a stay in a flat with Airbnb and a stay in a hotel proves the apprehension of the classical lodging enterprises. For cities living of tourism, it could represent an important loss of employment.
Concretely, the cities react under the both pressure of lodging issues and professional tourism lobbyism, the Big Apple first. The city of New York has passed a new law which doesn’t allow under-location of flats for less than 30 days, unless the locator lives with. Berlin Is now trying to pass the same kind of law and it is very likely to happen in Paris too. Airbnb has or will have therefore problem to find any apartments in these cities and try to find gaps in these laws. For instance in New York, if the hosts stays in the apartment while the visit of tourists, it is legal.
Hotels cannot face the problem directly as they cannot make any legal decisions or prohibit anything. Therefore, their strategy is to stress their marketing on the quality of their services, on the clients rating on websites such as TripAdvisor and on online marketing. So far, as it is a new threat, hotels and other professional of lodging are not completely prepared and don’t always apply these solutions, but the resistance is organising.
On the other hand, some parts of the population are protesting against these new laws as they benefited from this trend. Some event went professional, renting apartment to website as a full time professional activity. Protest already happened in New York, questioning the merits of what is perceived as a repression.
The new business of Airbnb is a threat for cities and professionals of lodging. These both protagonists react with laws and the improvement of their own service in order to curb the tendency, as it seems quite impossible to make it decrease. But the Airbnb and the owners of the rented apartments, which are not happy with these measures, subsist and always find a way to keep their business on.
The story is not over, and we will hear a lot about it in the next few years. The real question, which is also the most difficult, is “What is the interest of the people?” There is in one hand the lodging problem lots of countries have to face, not helped by the recession, and the employment that are generated by hotels. On the other hand, there is the interest of the people renting their apartment and the one of Airbnb, which also creates employment. Would it be possible to find a compromise? Certainly, but there comes the problem of the borders. One law for one country. Knowing that global solution is very unlikely to happen; will we have to make different choice, have different website and reference in each of the country we plan to travel?
Autor: Alexandre Clavel, 703_e
– No author. (10th December 2013). Le succès d’Airbnb énerve les villes. 20minutes.ch. http://www.20min.ch/ro/news/monde/story/Le-succ-s-d-Airbnb–nerve-les-villes-19196163
– Nina Fowler. 22nd November 2013). Airbnb calls for clarity on new holiday rental restrictions in Berlin. Venturevillage.eu http://venturevillage.eu/holiday-rentals-berlin
– Vikram Singh. (2nd December 2013). How Airbnb is crushing traditional hotel brands. 4hoteliers.com. http://www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/8038