“A tool to claw back our revenues” – that’s a hotel executive’s description of BNB Shield, part of a growing internet backlash against fast-growing “sharing economy” accommodation platforms.
The quote from the unnamed hotel executive adorns the BNB Shield website. The operation, based in Austin Texas, claims to find and report illegal and contract-breaking short-term rentals. It’s aimed at landlords and used by hoteliers too. It’s one of several similar sites.
BNB Shield says: “Short-term rentals have been growing in popularity as one of the pillars of the sharing economy. Most of these listings are on the up and up – a way for honest tenants to make a little extra money renting out their homes during popular local events or when they are away travelling.
“However, a growing number of rental properties are being turned into illegal commercial ventures: 24/7 short-term rentals managed by third-parties who don’t actually live there and never plan to.
“Unchecked, this situation can lead to a revolving door of people in your complex…”
The site goes on, mentioning “drugs, bed bugs, prostitution, pornography and other crimes that could be happening right now on your property”. It uses a combination of proprietary and publicly available mapping tools to identify such practices, sifting through listings in any specific area and matching information with known features in a specific building.
A recent examination by CNN Money found that “sharing economy” accommodation sites, Airbnb being the biggest and most notable, are drawing the attention of local governments, with various cities and towns enacting laws to try to regulate short-term rentals. The same examination uncovered evidence of Airbnb renters being asked by hosts to use subterfuge and tell neighbours they were friends or family, if questioned.
Airbnb is reportedly currently suing San Francisco over a new bylaw that requires all hosts to register with the city.
Sites such as SubletAlert.com and HostCompliance.com claim to help cities enforce short-term rental laws.
Another site, Inside Airbnb (insideairbnb.com), which is not affiliated with Airbnb, says it adds “data to the debate”.
The site says: “Airbnb claims to be part of the ‘sharing economy’ and disrupting the hotel industry. However, data shows that the majority of Airbnb listings in most cities are entire homes, many of which are rented all year round – disrupting housing and communities.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) used information and a graphic from Inside Airbnb on Tuesday (see above) to illustrate a media statement it circulated on the decision by Qantas to let Qantas Frequent Flyer members earn Qantas Points when they book their Airbnb accommodation through qantas.com. See: Hoteliers furious as Qantas teams up with Airbnb
Written by Peter Needham