Airbnb and AHLA Argue About Use and Impact

Airbnb-a8707ed9_originalThe American Hotel and Lodging Association reports "83% of Airbnb revenue in Boston-or $40 million-comes from operators listing units for rent more than 30 days per year." This is damming criticism because it claims that operators (or "hosts," which Airbnb prefers) are more like hotel owners avoiding taxes. 

But Airbnb disputes the data and told the Business Journal that 86% of Boston hosts share their primary residence and earn an average of $5,900 for sharing 45 nights each year. 

It's difficult to know where the truth lies. The AHLA study was sponsored by the association and data were gleaned from Airbnb by John W. O'Neill, a professor of hospitality management and director of the center for hospitality real estate strategy at Penn State University's School of Hospitality Management. 

Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty called the report "factually inaccurate" and said, "The AHLA is out of touch with the increasing number of consumers and cities embracing the tremendous benefits of home sharing. Airbnb is working with cities across the country and around the globe to create clear, fair home sharing rules and to collect and remit hotel taxes on behalf of our community, and we support similar efforts in Boston and across Massachusetts."

Fights for and against Airbnb continue throughout the country. Airbnb has reached agreements with some cities to automatically charge a 3% tax on all rentals, but other cities are hoping to ban short-term rentals entirely. New York City already prevents rentals for fewer than 30 days, but a proposed measure would fine owners for posting properties online. 

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • What could explain the discrepancy in Airbnb data?
  • Compare persuasive strategies used by the AHLA and Airbnb. How does each use emotional appeal in addition to data to support their argument?