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Hotel industry to discuss Airbnb “problem” just as it reports record profits

Airbnb had its best quarter ever in Q3 2018, even as cities across the US have started clamping down on the short-term rental market. Revenue during the third quarter breezed past the $1bn level as guest reservations boomed internationally from Birmingham to Beijing, the San Francisco-based company said on 16 November.

Airbnb expects a record 1m guests to stay at Airbnb listings across the US during the Thanksgiving holiday alone. However, the phenomenal growth the company has experienced in recent years is of great concern to the hotel industry and on 20 and 21 November the first international meeting of hotel representatives and city officials (aptly called ReformBnB) was held in New York to discuss ways to regulate Airbnb and other short-term accommodation platforms.

The group of hotel industry representatives from the US, Canada, France, Spain, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Japan, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Australia attended the conference, which included presentations by several city officials, hotel groups, and academics, discussing strategies for regulating Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, which have become home to a growing number of commercial agents who manage large volumes of listings.

“There's a commonality of negative outcomes around the world”, said Vijay Dandapani, the president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City. He told local press that, “short-term rental platforms treat these as isolated events, particular to that city, but that is not the case. What happens in Perth is almost identical to what we face here in New York City.”

Dandapani, who organised the conference, said because the challenges are similar around the world - a negative impact to the hotel industry, to the housing supply, and the local community - hotels, cities, and affordable housing advocates need to develop a collective response. “We’re a fragmented industry versus the platforms. There are maybe just three to four of them and they have a global unified strategy,” he said.

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