November 18, 2016

Airbnb has a message for the politicians who are warring with the company, according to Travel Weekly, M&C's sister publication: You'll come around.

Chris Lehane, left, the company's head of global policy and public affairs, said Airbnb's growing popularity among guests and hosts will force politicians in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Barcelona and Berlin to make an effort to find legal common ground with the homestay network.

Lehane, speaking Thursday at the Airbnb Open conference, noted that Airbnb has reached deals to collect occupancy taxes in more than 200 cities within the past year, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

"Politicians are really good at counting to 50 plus one," said Lehane. "This is where the majority is, this is something that's wildly popular, and this is the direction where the world is going."

With Airbnb's 3 million listed homes hosting a collective 70 million guests during the past year, Airbnb's growth continues to outpace the overall accommodations industry, causing opposition from hotel lobbyists in addition to politicians and affordable-housing advocates.

Airbnb sued its home city of San Francisco earlier this year over new requirements for hosts to register with the city. 

Lehane said Airbnb has tried to address the city's short-term housing concerns by adopting a policy where each host can list only one unit. However, he added that full compliance with the registration process may take a prospective host as long as 30 days. 

As for claims from hotel lobbyists that Airbnb hosts have an unfair advantage because their homes don't have to meet the requirements that hotels do, Lehane said that the global hotel industry generated a record $73 billion in profit last year.

"We see data suggesting that millennials are traveling more [than they would've otherwise without the option of home-based accommodations]," Lehane said. We think there's significant space for everyone to succeed."