Is the party over? Sharing seeks responsible rules. 

When is hospitality not hospitality? When it’s telling you not to party. In proof-as-if-it-was-needed news, this week Airbnb proved it was a technology company, not a hospitality company and went the full Sheriff of Nottingham and banned Christmas. Or in this case, all parties forever.

Closer inspection of the platform’s policy revealed that it refers to gatherings of 16 or more people, which are now capped. Although not if you have, say, a vineyard which is designed for more than 16 people. Which is exempt the cap. So you can have a gathering of more than 16 people if your property is large enough for 16 or more people. But no party if it’s smaller. So, really, if you’re having a party and you think there are going to be more than 16 people, then hire a venue which can accommodate more than 16 people. 

It’s this kind of startling clarity of thinking which has led to jurisdictions around the world trying a number of methods to come up with rules for the sharing economy to work by, rather than sitting around waiting for it to come up with something on its own. 

Driving all this are concerns about residential housing supply and concerns about parties making people’s lives a waking nightmare of noise, windows being pushed out into lawns and kebabs being smeared along corridor walls. And that’s just in Bath. The sector likes to complain about the risk to health and safety too, but when you consider Dominique Strauss-Kahn, hotels might like to back off on that front and stick to matters where they are on firmer ground.

This week saw the UK government make its call for evidence on the topic, as it looks for a possible solution, which at this stage could include registration and checks on businesses. 

That the government illustrated all this with data from 2017 and 2018 shows you how far behind the curve all this is, but better late than never. 

The hotel sector, which has always wanted to legislate the segment out of existence, was terribly excited by the news and the segment itself must bear in mind that the government report could find itself influenced by the hunt for more tax and the hunt for someone to blame for the housing shortage in the UK.

Handily for us at NewDog PR, in a startling feat of timing, this week we were lucky enough to have Merilee Karr, Chairperson, Short Term Accommodation Association, and Founder and CEO, Under The Doormat, on our podcast. (And for the latest white paper commissioned by the STAA, click here.)

Merilee talked about “a solution which gets the balance right” and this must be what we all want, because the segment isn’t going away and it’s teaching hotels a lot about service and about how people other than business travellers exist.

Whatever the government concludes must help the sharing economy find its level and light regulation is likely to deter many – not that it is rife with lawbreakers, but that a little hassle and cost goes a long way.

All we have at the moment is anecdotal evidence and this tells us that many of those looking at short-term lets are feeling the pinch on the margins. Increased energy costs cannot be passed on as they are with traditional tenants. Mortgages are going up. Finding people to clean the apartments is harder. During the pandemic, a slew of short-term rentals returned to the traditional housing market and, even doing nothing at all, this is likely to happen under the current circumstances. 

Professional hosts are those who are likely to remain, which is good news for all parties involved.

OK, Airbnb, maybe not ‘all parties’. Shh. 

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