As AirBnB recovers from its tone deaf advertising telling legislators where to spend taxes when they themselves enable evasion, they are now kind of, sort of, deciding the time is right to pay their fair share. Not because it's the right thing to do, because when have they ever cared about that? No, it has more to do counteracting negative PR.
So it's interesting to see its biggest competitor turning Airbnb into an advertising channel. Hotels are putting their listings on Airbnb. This is even more interesting considering the bigger picture. Hotels aren't doing this just to stay competitive against Airbnb, but also to save money.
According to the Fast Company article linked above:
"Managers at boutique hotels say they use the platform (Airbnb) similarly to the way they use booking services like Expedia and Priceline, which typically charge hotels a 10% to 25% fee per reservation. Airbnb, by contrast, charges hosts a 3% fee. "The commission is so much more attractive," says Stephan Westman, a hotel industry consultant who has listed hotel rooms on Airbnb. "Any hotel that needs to fill rooms, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t need to use it as one of their marketing arms."
While it's true Airbnb already has categories for Bed and Breakfasts and Dorms (the latter of which sounds totally safe and won't lead to Craigslist-style crimes at all) it's more interesting to think that hotels aren't going gentle into the good night, but using the Tech Darling platform to not only get butts in beds but beat the higher commission rate from the 1.0 booking sites, many of which came out before original tech bubble burst.
Can't say I blame the hotels. Expedia is currently acquiring Homeway, which is Airbnb's competitor. For those who think they have choice in the matter, Expedia also owns Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com and Hotwire.com among other sites. So it's not like they have a choice on where to list without paying a high commission rate. And make no mistake, every tech startup is looking for an exit strategy. It's within the realm of possibility an Expedia competitor could always buy out Airbnb, too.
By the way, why is it. online websites, many of whom espouse the "sharing economy" philosophy look so much like monopolies?
The larger question is, how much longer will Airbnb continue to let hotels list on their site without charging a higher rate? The way I look at it, Joe Schmo's apartment in Nowhere, Illinois isn't as big a brand as The Guest House Hotel in Chicago. Or put another way, the Guest House Hotel is a full time operation; most Airbnb's are not. There's a good chance Airbnb might decide to start charging more for actual businesses.
In the meantime, I wish other categories would start disrupting their tax-evading tech upstart competitors. Ah, disruption. Fun word, right? That would make for much livelier competition across the board.