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by Michael J. Shapiro | May 06, 2016

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has made the regulation of sharing-economy lodging platforms a key point on its 2016 Policy Agenda. Although the organization welcomes the idea of home-sharing, it takes issue with what it terms "illegal hotels" - by which hosts are renting multiple units for extended periods of time without reasonable oversight or regulation.

In a study AH&LA conducted with researchers from Penn State University's School of Hospitality Management, it was determined that nearly 30 percent, or $378 million, of Airbnb's revenue from major cities came from "full-time operators," or hosts who had rentals available at least 360 days a year. The report, "From Air Mattresses to Unregulated Business: An Analysis of the Other Side of Airbnb," noted that each of those full-time operators earned an average of more than $140,000 during the period studied.

Among the dozen U.S. cities researched in the study, hosts who rented out two or more residential properties on Airbnb accounted for 17 percent of all hosts and drove nearly 40 percent of the revenue in those markets, or more than half a billion dollars per year. Cities with the greatest concentration of these full-time operators include New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"AH&LA believes all lodging platforms should operate under a level and legal playing field to ensure the safety and security of guests and communities," reads the organization's position statement. "Further, AH&LA will work with the appropriate levels of government to help stop individuals or entities from operating multiple units full-time, essentially illegal hotels, without adhering to any safety or security standards, or tax obligations; as well as ensuring law enforcement has the tools necessary to enforce existing laws." 

The other policy points on AH&LA's 2016 agenda concern the elimination of online-booking scams and closing online travel-agency tax loopholes, to protect the consumer; promoting travel and tourism in the U.S.; establishing fair government per-diem rates; and supporting the hotel workforce via policies that protect the franchise model, endorse fair wage policies that don't single out the lodging industry, and protect jobs by maintaining federal overtime regulations. The full agenda can be found at http://www.ahla.com/uploadedFiles/_Common/pdf/Policy_Guide_2016.pdf.