In an interview this week on Bloomberg Financial News, Starwood Capital founder, Barry Sternlicht, was clear on his position that Airbnb is a disruptor in the lodging industry and that the company that allows property owners to rent to travelers needs to follow the same rules as the lodging industry to create a level playing field.
"It's undeniable that these industries are changing the landscape," said Sternlicht. "What we want in the lodging industry is for them to pay the same occupancy taxes and sales taxes that guests in our hotels have to pay. That's absolutely required, and that's their benefit. They don't pay, and that's not fair. In New York City, that's a 20 percent load. The unions will take care of them for us. Because they will argue, and they're right, that it will hurt a lot of union jobs all over the country."
Sternlicht pointed out that hotel companies were working hard to provide more than a commodity, which is what differentiates them from Airbnb. He cited his 1Hotel in Miami as an example of a property that is successful at creating a unique guest experience. "We were sold out last month," he said. "We are killing it."
When asked if his company, Starwood Capital, had any interest in acquiring Airbnb, Sternlicht was quick to reply. "I think Airbnb's private market value is higher than the entire lodging sector in the United States combined," he said. "They should buy every hotel company."
Listen to the full interview here.