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by Michael J. Shapiro & Cheryl-Anne Sturken | June 01, 2016
(Pictured) Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii)
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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 said it welcomes the idea of home-sharing, it takes issue with "illegal hotels" -- where hosts are renting multiple units for extended periods without reasonable oversight or regulation.

A study AH&LA conducted with researchers from Penn State University's School of Hospitality Management found that from September 2014 through September 2015, nearly 30 percent, or $378 million, of Airbnb's revenue in major cities came from "full-time operators" -- hosts who had rentals available at least 360 days a year. The report noted that, on average, those full-time operators each earned more than $140,000 during the period studied.

Among the dozen U.S. cities in the study, hosts who rented out two or more residential properties on Airbnb comprised 17 percent of all hosts and drove nearly 40 percent of the revenue in those markets, or more than $500 million 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 on 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."

The other policy points on AH&LA's agenda, including the elimination of online-booking scams -- can be found at bit.ly/1OxPdUG.

At least one of the association's lobbying efforts this year has been successful: In April, the House Armed Services Committee rolled back per-diem rate cuts instituted by the Department of Defense for uniform and civilian employees on long-term travel or temporary duty, which it had instituted in December 2014. The per-diem rates are being restored to the levels they were before the cuts.

Addressing the House committee, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) said, "Over the past year, I have heard from countless constituents, businesses, and our military and civilian defense personnel on how harmful this reduction in per-diem funding has been.  Long-term travel for our defense and military personnel is not a perk, and oftentimes is mandatory and imperative to our nation's security."

AH&LA led a coalition of industry groups, including the U.S. Travel Association, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Wyndham Worldwide, to argue on Capitol Hill for the repeal of the cuts.

Ron Bergeron, executive director and CEO of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, said, "SGMP applauds this repeal of the per-diem rollback, which was an undue burden on hard-working government employees."