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Accommodation listings site Airbnb is planning to work with authorities around the world to improve the regulation of the properties featured on its platforms.
Marc McCabe, business travel lead for Airbnb, said the San Francisco-based company “welcomed regulation” during a panel discussion organised by Carlson Wagonlit Travel today.
“We welcome regulation but it just takes time to put this into effect with local governments,” he said. “We are now officially legal in six different markets.”
McCabe said Airbnb, which is part of the so-called “sharing economy”, had spent the last year “learning about what travel managers want”.
“We are looking at what we can do to integrate into the industry a little bit better,” he said. “We see our place as being within travel programmes. But we need to do more education within the corporate travel space as well as working with governments.”
Airbnb launched a business travel platform last year, which sparked some concern in the business travel industry about possible security issues for travellers.
“We do a lot of work on risk and safety and we have got two insurance policies which people don’t necessarily know about,” added McCabe.
“People should have choice and be able to pick options that make them feel comfortable.”
But Olivia Byrne, owner of the Ecceleston Square Hotel in London, said that there was not a “fair playing field” between hotels and accommodation being offered through sites such as Airbnb.
“We are very regulated and have to pay high business rates,” she said. “It’s unfair that we are competing with an industry that is not as regulated as us.”
Byrne pointed out that hotels had to comply with fire safety regulations and provided security such as 24-hour CCTV.
“People should be more aware of what they are buying on sites like Airbnb,” she added. “Our business travellers prefer staying in a hotel because they get the service they want and know what to expect, such as room service and wifi.”