Big Business Uses Big Government Against Big Innovators

cronyism_800.pngDisruptive business models are disruptive; Airbnb and Uber, and their competitors, illustrate the upsides and downsides of the sea change such companies impose.

One of the biggest downsides of traditional hotel and taxis services has been their high cost to consumers; nowhere is this more apparent than in NYC.

Both industries are heavily regulated; regulation protects customer safety and ensures compliance with laws like the ADA and anti-discrimination legislation, but keeps prices high.

Taxi services in NYC were very pricey; the requirement for a medallion license in NYC greatly reduced competition. The high taxes cities like NYC impose on hotels help keep hotel costs high.

Uber provides jobs, and has made transportation much more available and convenient. But there is a cost in safety, and issues like insurance and liability are real.

Airbnb allows efficient use of real estate, and can moderate high hotel costs; this would be beneficial in places like NY. But Airbnb homes do not have to meet fire and accessibility regulations, and such rentals, when prevalent, can undermine zoning laws and change the character of neighborhoods for the worse.

Society must address these trade-offs through intelligent regulation and laws. What’s worrisome is when it is the lobbyists that are controlling the agenda; lobbyists rarely have the public interest at heart.

It’s worrisome that, as the article reports, key legislators would not response to requests for comments from reporters.
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This comment was left by Alex at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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Read the New York Times Article https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/technology/inside-the-hotel-industrys-plan-to-combat-airbnb.html 


It is truly a shame the hotel lobby would seek this agenda. Rather than promote themselves, they seek to (and have somewhat succeeded) in pushing forth a negative agenda.

All of this is done through through their manipulation of the precisely necessary politicians. This can be likened to mud slinging-political races; except it isn't.

The people who are truly hurt are travelers and home and room renters; all seeking to become self sufficient (in the case of the home renters) and a real way to save a lot of money (in the case of travelers on a tight budget).

"Kick 'em while they are down" is the message clearly sent by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. They are no different than some thug urinating on a homeless person, freezing in some doorway.

Shame on you, Katherine Lugar; shame on you.
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This comment was left by Easy Goer at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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Amid this outpouring of lobbying money by both Airbnb and the hotel lobby, who once again gets squeezed? Of course - the hosts who actually make room in their homes and change the sheets and provide the service. One other example of a country run by the monied.

Last year, Airbnb dropped its lawsuit against AirBNB after receiving assurances that the host, not the company, would be subjected to the fines and lawsuits if there is a violation. It nauseated me. This company takes a steep cut off of each booking, and yet they will blatantly show that they care very little for the hosts that make their business possible.

As a longtime super host (super hosts are another psychological ploy to get us to slave away more) I am neither surprised by the dirty tricks the hotel lobby plays to create a narrative, nor that all the warring efforts end up hurting hosts most.

Because money in politics. Everything goes back to money in politics. When will we do something about this injustice?
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This comment was left by Frieda Vizel at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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Uber has shaken up the taxicab industry. Most would agree this is good for consumers as we were tired of filthy cabs, rude drivers, and undependable service.

Airbnb is also good for consumers. The hotel industry has some really annoying and customer-unfriendly practices liking tripling their rates when a large event comes to town and way overcharging for parking, in-room movies, and snack bar items.

Not to mention the outrageous taxes and fees one sees when they review the bill. One would hope that the industry would use this new threat as an impetus to be more customer-friendly.

Alas, it seems not. They would rather use underhanded practices like bribing politicians to try to harm their new competition.
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This comment was left by Mr Reason at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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I have mixed feelings about Airbnb. I understand the negatives but I have used it several times now and can understand the attraction.

First of course is the cost. Often hotels are at least twice as expensive as an Airbnb accommodation, and you sometimes get an entire house for less money than a hotel room. Other times the Airbnb is in a more convenient location.

But for me one big factor in shying away from hotels or motel chains is the noise. Lately it seems like whenever I stay in a chain there is a group of young hockey players, whose parents let them run wild through the halls at all hours. The front desk people are unable or unwilling to stop them.

Then there are the loud people who come back after midnight, talk loudly and slam doors, showing a total lack of concern for their neighbors. I've never encountered this in an Airbnb.

Hotels and motels could offer quiet floors or wings and make it clear to guests that they will have to honor the quiet rules or move to another floor.

Another thing hotels could do is offer less housekeeping service for a lower cost. I usually don't change the towels everyday on requests to save the environment. But doing so helps the hotel also. They could lower the daily rate if guests didn't require daily room cleaning.

I'm sure there are other things that the hotel industry could do to keep and attract customers. Airbnb should have to play by some of the same rules, but the hotel industry has to change also.
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This comment was left by Miriam at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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In Fall of 2012, I moderated a panel at the annul AHLA (hotel industry) trade show at Javits.

The hoteliers were dismissive - to the point of being haughty - about Airbnb, and the representative from the meetings/conference industry had a similar disposition.

To paraphrase him, "our members will never want to stay in...(aghast) someone's apartment!"

Meanwhile, rarely do those in a position of business leadership ever seems to learn from history and past business disruptions: cue the taxi/car service business and Uber, or Blockbuster Video and Netflix, and many, many more).

That the AHLA is now seeking to fire some weak shots (Hello? The "Angry Neighbor" angle?) via public relations demonstrates how archaic their thinking continues to be.

Many, many customers use Airbnb and it is now in their arsenal of lodging options. The hotel industry should not disparage Airbnb but focus on the difference that their hotels offer guests.
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This comment was left by Michael Cummings at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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I have rented out my condo and my mother's 2nd home as vacation rentals for 9 years on HomeAway/VRBO & more recently Airbnb. Financially it has served our purposes very well and allowed us to keep our homes while we were out-of-town for extended periods of time. I have always been very careful who I rent to and have had only a few issues with renters in all that time.

However, I firmly believe the vacation rental model does change the character of neighborhoods -- not necessarily for the better -- and not all property owners are as conscientious about their neighbors as they should be.

My charming, 1 block-long beach street where I've lived for 30 yrs in So Cal is now filled with vacation rentals. Most are absentee owners, whereas we live in our properties 6 mo. a year. There are now fewer real neighbors and sometimes horrible 'bachelor party' issues from one luxury property purchased to just as a money-making business. 'Affordable rentals' -- older cottages or apartments --are turned into 'hotels' pushing most average income renters out.

I put my neighbors 1st, and mostly have longer-term renters, but stronger regulations, controls, and minimum stay limits could help control those who aren't as conscientious. And maybe limited licensing, like alcohol permits.

(I write this as I am staying in a great Airbnb apt. in Vancouver for 12 days . . . it is a complicated issue)
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This comment was left by Lee at NYTimes.com - No commenter link was available
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Read the New York Times Article https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/technology/inside-the-hotel-industrys-plan-to-combat-airbnb.html 




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