THE AIRBNB DEBATE AT WYSTC
The Airbnb concept has captured the world’s imagination since bursting onto the hospitality scene in 2007, bringing a new dimension to the travellers’ experience.
Recognising the changes the online platform has heralded, STAY WYSE – as the association representing the whole accommodation industry – decided WYSTC 2014 would be a prime occasion to open the debate around this controversial travel phenomenon to its members.
Clement Marcelet, Airbnb’s Hospitality Innovator, was therefore invited to explain how, with over a thousand new hosts joining the Airbnb community every day across 190 countries and 150,000 guests every night, it nurtures this community of individuals.
Philip Houghton, Chairman of STAY WYSE who chaired the session, said: “At the heart of the Airbnb phenomenon is the way it has managed to engage its customers in a powerful way.
“The challenge for Airbnb will be to work fast to engage all the stakeholders within the communities in which they operate. Ensuring that the Airbnb offer complies with local regulations is essential to providing a level-playing field for existing accommodation providers who are coming to terms with the rich and varied new supply in their markets.”
During the session Clement explained that he believes trust is very much at the heart of Airbnb’s success. Knowing that protecting the property is critical to hosts, it offers them a free €700,000 host guarantee – an unmatched level of protection in the travel industry. This is backed up by detailed profiles, confirmed reviews and integrated messaging which allows guests and hosts to get to know each other before the trip as well as a 24/7 customer service team.
He also highlighted how Airbnb believes great hospitality should be at the core of what it provides so it isn’t simply about where you stay but the entire experience while you’re there, sentiments that resonate with the STAY WYSE community.
Attendees from Italy and Australia raised concerns to which Clement indicated that Airbnb would welcome ongoing discussions to make things fair for all parties where there is a lack of clarity over regulation.
On the subject of taxes, he advised that “taxation is a very common question from our hosts. We don’t want to be seen as doing anything illegal and we always remind them that they need to pay taxes. These regulations differ from city to city so we now have a blog where we hope to help answer some of their questions. Having our team stationed around the world also helps us ensure we’re aligned with local regulations.”
Philip concluded: “As the global trade association for youth travel accommodation, our mission is to provide safe and affordable accommodation for young people. It’s therefore important that we use occasions such as WYSTC, at which people are gathered from all over the world, to see what learnings we can take and to stimulate debate.”