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Leaked Documents Reveal the Hotel Lobby's Aggressive Plan To Undermine Airbnb (gizmodo.com) 122

The New York Times has obtained a document revealing the hotel lobby's aggressive plan to undermine Airbnb's business "by pushing for bills to regulate the company at every level of government," reports Gizmodo. From the report: According to documents from the American Hotel and Lodging Association -- a trade group that includes the country's biggest hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, the Four Seasons and Starwood Hotels -- the organization is planning a multi-pronged attack at local, state, and federal levels to prevent Airbnb from spreading to new cities across the country. Part of the strategy includes "aggressively countering" Airbnb's claim that it's just helping the middle class make ends meet "with a wave of personal testimonials of consumer harm." The document essentially serves as opposition research and gives its members talking points about Airbnb's alleged racism and taxation issues. According to the document, the association will focus its efforts on Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, and Miami, where Airbnb has yet to establish a strong footing.
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Leaked Documents Reveal the Hotel Lobby's Aggressive Plan To Undermine Airbnb

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  • Damn (Score:5, Funny)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @05:51PM (#54252467)

    The Internet keeps leaking documents, somebody should fix those pipes!

    • by ZipK ( 1051658 )

      The Internet keeps leaking documents, somebody should fix those pipes!

      Tubes. It's a series of tubes.

      • The Internet keeps leaking documents, somebody should fix those pipes!

        Tubes. It's a series of tubes.

        Well, in the UNIX world...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Lobby armies are the real root of the problem. By throwing enough money into Washington, pretty much any business can have laws, penned by them, pushed in front of a vote in congress and the house.

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @05:53PM (#54252479)
    Why shouldn't someone operating a hotel out of an apartment be expected to operate under the same rules?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      I love it when Slashdotters talk about "rules" when it comes to Uber vs. taxis or Marriott vs. AirBnb. Guess what? There are no "rules". There is no magical government fairy inspecting taxi fleets or hotel rooms. The only rules are what the lobbyists pay the politicians for. The taxi you get into has no rules. There are no rules for hiring drivers, there is no independent safety inspections. None. The entire purpose of the "rules" are to collect taxes.
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:13PM (#54252609)

      Agreed. Neither side is easy to support here. If it were up to Airbnb, landlords would stop renting, every apartment would be put on Airbnb, and both Airbnb and landlords would make a fortune. If you lived in an Airbnb place, or next to one, you're dealing with a constant stream of changing neighbors who have no incentive to be good neighbors since they're on vacation and couldn't care less who hates them by the end of their stay. On the hotel side of things, they are often either pretty expensive or affordable but sketchy and dirty as hell, sometimes doubling as a place homeless stay. There also may not be enough during peak tourist season.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        I've been staying at places through VRBO for nearly 20 years, I doubt that anyone knew I was a temporary renter unless they're really familiar with their neighbors or were directly involved in the rental activity (I've been told to "see Clara next door for the keys" type of things multiple times). Just because there are assholes out there doesn't mean we should try to shut down an entire industry.

    • Why shouldn't someone operating a hotel out of an apartment be expected to operate under the same rules?

      ...because the vast majority of those rules involve running an operation with many multiple temporary renters in one (or more) building(s)?

      I perfectly understand the need for basic health/safety regulation - e.g. providing sufficient fire protection (smoke detectors, extinguishers, etc), having at least a basic usable map detailing the emergency exits, not having an apartment full of black mold (or worse), etc.

      So what, above and beyond the basics, would be required for someone temporarily letting their apar

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:55PM (#54252837)

      Because one home/suite/room does not a hotel make? If anything they should be regulated as a B&B:

      http://vancouver.ca/doing-business/bed-and-breakfast-business.aspx

      Require a business license and whatever inspection is needed for the B&B and then let them get on with making a go of it.

      But to say that someone renting their coach house or basement suite out for the weekend should be subject to the same obligations as a 1000 room hotel is kind of insane. It's already perfectly fine to rent a property out for more than 30 days but shorten it to a weekend and suddenly you need to comply with more regulations?

      Sounds to me like cartels don't want competition especially when it's desperately needed.

      • People who are in for the weekend don't give a shit about the neighbors. How many times could the police possibly visit in one weekend? Not enough for them to get past warnings. If a person is there for a month then they may have a wild party on the last weekend but they won't want to have a full month of having the police called on them so at least the neighbors get most of that month in peace.
        • You know, most people who go somewhere for the weekend don't actually want the cops showing up to where they are going so there's a built in reticence to causing a disturbance. Frat boys gonna frat of course, but generally those sorts aren't going for a 1br AirBNB near the tourist landmarks or shopping district.

      • That honestly sounds like the best solution.

        I have a spare bedroom I'd love to rent out but as I'm a renter, I'm not gungho about violating my lease. Regulation as a B&B would make it easy for landlords to catch folks breaking their lease. At some point when I buy a place, I would also likely want to rent a spare bedroom on infrequent occasion to help blast away the mortgage as hotels here are not cheap. Would be happy to take that approach.

    • Why shouldn't someone operating a hotel out of an apartment be expected to operate under the same rules?

      I can counter with an equally valid, 'Why should they?'

      They are not a hotel. If I rent let my neighbor do their laundry in my washing machine once in a while, am I a Laundromat chain? If I drive a friend to the airport and hit them up for some gas money, am I a taxi service?

      Now, you might counter with some concerns that they need to be regulated in order that AirB&B suites are safe and follow
    • I think it's very different depending on the nature of the Airbnb. If it's someone renting their apartment out but only when they're on vacation, or renting a guest room out while they live there, then that's definitely a different situation than a normal hotel. If the apartment or house is pretty much exclusively used as short-term rentals, then I can see having more strenuous regulations in place. Frequency of renting seems, to me, to be an important factor in what set of rules one should have to follow.
  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @05:57PM (#54252513)

    I think they're taking the wrong approach here. They should be promoting their services as being of constant quality in a business setting, unlike the competition which are just a bunch of people sort-of renting places in their own homes.

    Would I stay in a stranger's home? Not even if you paid me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swb ( 14022 )

      It's wrong on every level. When your big idea is to maintain your cartel status by regulating the competition at every government level it's obvious that your competition is onto something and you are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

      This is a snapshot of so many things that are wrong with America:

      1) Excessive government regulation -- that it's even possible to regulate a business into oblivion shows that we have too much regulation. Regulation in and of itself isn't bad, but it should be kind of a rea

      • Re:Good idea, but... (Score:4, Informative)

        by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:31PM (#54252699)

        On the other hand, there are reasonable regulations AirBnB should have to abide by. They're half of a publicly available commercial hotel service, and can't operate without the other half. While some of the regulations are doubtless there to protect the hotel business by setting up barriers to entry, others are not.

        The AirBnB system, as a whole, needs to avoid illegal discrimination. It needs to comply with local zoning. The rented-out units need to be in safe condition, and as advertised. There may be other local requirements.

        Currently, AirBnB is in the Uber situation of being able to compete by evading the normal regulations. It is listing places that are not legal to hire out as short-term accommodations. If AirBnB is able to come into conformance with reasonable regulations, that's great.

      • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:44PM (#54252769)

        It's wrong on every level. When your big idea is to maintain your cartel status by regulating the competition at every government level it's obvious that your competition is onto something and you are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

        The regulations in existence didn't come at the behest of the hotel industry. But now they they must operate under them, they SHOULD use them to protect themselves. Why would they agree to operate under those regulators while a growing competitor doesn't have to?

        If you don't like the regulations themselves, then tell us which ones to get rid of and why.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        Excessive government regulation -- that it's even possible to regulate a business into oblivion shows that we have too much regulation

        Unless that business is harmful to the folks around it. Of course a business should be regulated in that case. It's not like the mythical 'invisible hand' is going to correct that. If someone opens up their house to short term rentals through Air B&B and the renters cause disturbances, the business eventually has to be liable. That's "regulation." (Side note, it seems like it's "the law" when it's something we agree with, "regulations" when it's something we don't) It's regulation meant to prevent those

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Really, regulation shouldn't be structured as pre-emptive. We should regulate in response to need, not create regulations for problems that only exist theoretically. This sounded like an attempt to craft regulations specifically to invalidate ABNB's business model.

          I guess I'm wondering what Air B&B rentals are doing that's so bad that it requires such extensive regulation. As far as I know, people are basically renting rooms out that are already in residences. If those renters are too loud, isn't th

    • "Would I stay in a stranger's home? Not even if you paid me."

      Then you would miss experiences like hiking through an ancient farm and village landscape, staying at a different B&B every night next to a village pub-restaurant, in an area with few conventional hotels.
      https://www.mickledore.co.uk/w... [mickledore.co.uk]

    • Would I stay in a stranger's home? Not even if you paid me.

      Wow, closed minded. I have a big preference for co-lodging with landlords on airbnb. Typically it is a spare room with a spare bathroom, or in an attic. But the benefits of it are incredible. You meet the most interesting and lovely people and you get to know some local information that you don't get on the red city explorer bus or from the tourist information centre.

      The poorest experiences I've had have been NOT staying in some stranger's home.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      Would I stay in a stranger's home? Not even if you paid me.

      When I travel, I always appreciate local flavor in my lodgings rather than some sterile hotel room that looks the same in San Francisco, London, Japan, or Rio. For the same reason, I consider it a complete waste if I go traveling abroad only to eat at McDonalds because I know what I'm getting.

  • Home or Hotel (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you are letting a friend sleep on your couch and he buys a pizza, that is not a business and is not tax to report.
    If you own a couple houses, you are renting them out by the day/week that is a hotel business.
    Do you remove ALL the rules for the Hotel industry? or Do you make the "NEW and IMPROVED" business model abide by the rules built up over the years?
    You either let them all run free, or make them all abide by the rules. You can't have it both ways. Here in Florida, a lot of things are based on tour

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:01PM (#54252543)

    Just love how protecting us from ourselves always seems to protect large interests from anyone else making money in their racket.

    • Unfortunately, in a large and complex society it is unreasonable to expect everyone to question everything all the time - it's too easy for people to avoid the problem of a 'reputation' given a large enough population and you can't spend all your time doing background checks on everyone when there's no place keeping trustworthy records and adhering to record keeping standards.

      That's where regulation comes in - everyone agrees on standards, which are enforced by a standards body, and violators deal with the

    • You're totally missing how these regulations also protect people who purchase homes, but ok continue to look at the side that gives you something to complain about.
  • More regulations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:06PM (#54252569) Journal

    So those anti-regulation Republicans will shun this, right?

    • So those anti-regulation Republicans will shun this, right?

      They'll be glad to get rid of some of the regulations. I don't think they are as interested, one way or the other, in picking who they apply to.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Considering that the anti-Aribnb and anti-Uber interests have had their greatest success in big cities controlled by Democrats it is safe to assume that Republicans will shun this as they have time and again.
  • i have come to you out of respect. now let me make you an offer
  • Mmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:19PM (#54252631)

    "the organization is planning a multi-pronged attack at local, state, and federal levels..."

    The word you're looking for is 'conspiracy'.

  • by jediborg ( 4808835 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @06:49PM (#54252787)
    Is that big corporations want a free market so they can 'run roughshod' over the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Big corporations want Big Government regulators that they can influence and control with their money and political connections. This gives them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Some refer to this as 'regulatory capture' as if it sometimes happens by accident, when in reality these bureaucracies are designed from the very beginning to be 'captured'

    Big corporations are scared shitless of the Free Market. The Free Market is what allowed a small upstart company like netflix to destroy a juggernaut fortune-500 company that was blockbuster. The free market was what (almost) put kodak out of business. They refused to invest in the burgeoning digital camera market, trying to prevent it from happening and doubling down on film cameras. Thats not what the market wanted and they got put in their place.

    If you fear the immense corporate power that exists in the world, do the one smart thing. Advocate for the abolishment of as many national regulations as possible, and try to remember there is a difference between a regulatory LAW - written, debated, and passed by your elected representatives and signed by an elected executive, and "regulator agencies" run by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats which get to write their own "laws" (regulatory codes), enforce them, and sometimes even adjudicate them.
    • America tried an almost completely unregulated free market. It gave us the "robber barons" who monopolized incredible wealth for themselves, and used it to either buy-up or destroy all competitors by cutting them off from their markets. Industrialists who would hire private armies to MURDER union organizers rather than risk increasing labor costs. A state of affairs which eventually caused a little thing called the "great depression" which nearly caused a peasant revolt that would have destroyed this countr

      • sure, if you believe the JPMorgan-Sponsored version of history. The monopolies of the 18th century where regional monopolies enforced by city and state regulations, thus the feds had to come in with 'trust-busting' schemes instead of using the interstate commerce clause to abolish the state regulations that gave these industrialists so much power in the first place.

        As for labor conflicts during the era, yeah those where bad. Inspired by economists of the time who thought it was best for companies to prio
    • The Free Market is what allowed a small upstart company like netflix to destroy a juggernaut fortune-500 company that was blockbuster.

      No. Netflix won because Blockbuster refused to innovate and were way too slow to realize that streaming is the future. The mythical free market didn't kill Blockbuster. Blockbuster killed Blockbuster.

      The free market was what (almost) put kodak out of business. They refused to invest in the burgeoning digital camera market, trying to prevent it from happening and doubling down on film cameras. Thats not what the market wanted and they got put in their place.

      That has nothing to do with the mythical free market. Kodak simply didn't follow the technical advances in camera technology, and paid for it.

      • No. Netflix won because Blockbuster refused to innovate and were way too slow to realize that streaming is the future. The mythical free market didn't kill Blockbuster. Blockbuster killed Blockbuster.

        Free market principles killed blockbuster. If alternatives weren't [relatively] free to exist, then blockbuster would still be around because we wouldn't have any other legal alternative, and the majority of people will do what is expected of them most of the time. And even if piracy somehow killed blockbuster, then that really would be the free market at work, ha ha.

        • No, fair competition killed Blockbuster. That is not necessarily the same thing as the "invisible hand of the free market". If Blockbuster had been just a little bit aware of their position and what the future of movie/series watching would look like, they could have owned the entire segment. That would have been completely in line with free market philosophy, which doesn't mind monopolies at all, because it erroneously considers all actors to be rational, and considers companies unwilling to exploit their

          • No, fair competition killed Blockbuster. That is not necessarily the same thing as the "invisible hand of the free market".

            What? Of course it is. Fair competition is the cornerstone of the free market. That's why the market is so seldom free. But in this case, free market principles were at work. Someone was free to compete with a superior service, and they put the incumbent out of business by being superior.

      • i think we disagree on what the words 'mythical' and 'free market' mean. It was only because i had the FREEDOM to stop renting movies from blockbuster and choose to rent from netflix that blockbuster went out of business. If i where FORCED to rent movies from blockbuster and only blockbuster that would NOT be a free market (you see situations like this in communist countries) alternatively, if there where a 'renting regulations' that prevented netflix from ever letting people rent discs through the mail, an
        • You seem to have a deep-seated misunderstanding of socialism and the benefit of sensible regulations for the end customer, probably due to a lifetime of "socialism = BAD!" style indoctrination.

          • No actually, i was raised socialist, went to college dedicated to read everything i could on the subject in order to determine "Why communism failed" and how we could get it to work in the new century.

            Several years later, and i realized socialism/communism is inherently flawed and is computationally impossible. Read up on the economic calculation problem https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Which as a computer scientist i found to be objective logical proof that socialism/communism is impossible, its basica
  • Everyone's dirty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @07:04PM (#54252877)

    The hotels are dirty: they pay extremely low wages to cleaning staff, while charging exorbitant prices for rooms, and AirBnB is of course a threat to that business model, so their solution is to force them to compete under the same regulatory environment.

    AirBnB is dirty: the company doesn't give a shit about party houses popping up in desirable neighborhoods that regularly violate noise ordinances. In their view, that's a local law enforcement problem. That's the next door neighbor's problem. They profess to care, but only pay lip service. AirBnB turns a blind eye to developers and landlords (who are already insanely wealthy) turning their properties into unofficial hotels, causing rents to skyrocket for people who actually live in the area. And let's not forget: AirBnB lobbied--HARD--against initiatives to prevent this kind of abuse of the housing market. And they won.

    Local government is dirty: politicians lie, cheat, and do backroom deals to get on whatever side of an issue that brings them the most campaign money. In San Diego, the city is proposing yet another "transient occupancy tax" hike to finance all kinds of projects that they should be financing by taxing the entities that stand to gain most from those projects. But they won't because it's political suicide, so they always pick the easy target: out-of-city tourists. Comic-Con is a huge draw and the city milks the attendees for everything they can. Hotel costs are out of control, and that just pushes more people to use AirBnB. Why rent a $400/night hotel room when you can get a whole house for less than half that rate?

    The landlords are dirty: they only care that they can rent out their properties with AirBnB at over twice the prevailing monthly rent in the area. They don't give a fuck about noise complaints. Not their problem as long as the city keeps saying they have no enforcement power. They just see the money rolling in because it's completely unregulated.

    And as always, who suffers? Regular property owners and renters. Middle class people who are priced out of the rental market because $2500 or more per month for a 1 bedroom apartment is obscene.

    Fuck all of you: hotels, AirBnB, greedy landlords, the city.

    • And as always, who suffers? Regular property owners and renters. Middle class people who are priced out of the rental market because $2500 or more per month for a 1 bedroom apartment is obscene.

      It could be argued that any house which isn't owner-occupied is a threat to the middle class, especially those just entering it. Investment properties introduce volatility into the housing market. During upswings, they compete for inventory, driving prices up. During downswings, they can flood markets as investors go under. Renters cause more frequent quality of life issues for neighbors than homeowners. Vacant shadow homes can cause blight.

      If voters wanted to reduce that volatility, a tax on non-owner

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Are the landlords dirty? When socialist laws in countries with pseudo-socialist traditions make laws that effectively turn the rented property into an house of the tenant, making even tremendously difficult to evict them even if they do not pay, and forces you to do maintenance in very old properties, that you do not "own" anymore, and that exceed in many orders of magnitude the rent value...heck, where property tax is often superior to the rent, and you keep paying it just hoping the tenants drop dead, and
    • The cost of urban housing was high enough to price people out long before AirBnB existed. It's simple supply and demand - there's not enough room for all the people who want to live there, driving up the market price.
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @07:14PM (#54252959)
    The wife and I seldom use the pool, never the gym, never the masseuse. We want a place to stay while we either spend the night, or spend a couple days exploring the area.

    You want to charge a fee, charge it when I go into the pool. Or when I go into the gym. Or when I go wherever. But charge me for shit I don't use? Fuck that.
    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Exactly. I was even today eying a resort in Phillipines were the salaries and shit and their attention to the customer...well, it leaves a bit to desire, and they all an "all inclusive" service on line with Bora Bora prices.... hello, you are D-R-E-A-M-I-N-G. No fucking way.
      The thing is that they are making that for two nights... If they just halved the priced, they might have had a customer...
  • Everyone knows it's way way more pleasant to stay in the average Airbnb than in the average hotel. That's why the hotel capitalists are trying so hard to make legal apparatus suffocate Airbnb. Obviously if it were put up to a popular vote Airbnb would win by a landslide.

  • Interesting article on the BBC...'My Airbnb flat was turned into a pop-up brothel'

    Quote: "I found used condom wrappers under the bed, I found the bin was overflowing with tissues and condoms. And basically what I had to do was pick all that up with my hands."

    With people like this renting stuff, I'm not sure I want to try Airbnb anytime soon...

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazi... [bbc.com]

    • What's interesting about that article is their suspiciously naive assumption that nobody films porns or does prostitutions in hotel rooms. It honestly reads like a hotel industry penned scare article to attempt to discredit airbnb.
  • then screw fairness, use government to criminalize your competition.
  • Here are a few regulations that should be implemented for AirBnB (or any other similar site):
    1.It should be illegal for a tenant to list the property they are renting on AirBnB without explicit permission from the landlord. Landlords should have the power to evict tenants who list properties without permission. (this stops the problem with tenants who list the property on AirBnB without permission from the landlord in order to make some money).
    2.It should be illegal to list any property that is covered by a

  • If I buy a nice house in a nice area, I don't want noisy vacationers and partiers in and out several times a month. Properties frequently rented on Airbnb should be treated as commercial.

    If people want to run a bed and breakfast out of their homes, Airbnb should require them to file the local zoning or permits before listing their properties.

    Oh, and regarding:

    Airbnb's claim that it's just helping the middle class make ends meet

    If you can't afford your house without Airbnb, then you can't afford your house. Make better financial decisions next time.

    Maybe we need basic financi

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