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BIG CHANGES AT AIRBNB

The online room sharing service, Airbnb, has opened a “Hospitality Lab” based in Dublin, Ireland, holding both offline workshops and online classes to train its hosts in nine key best practices for hospitality, including prompt responses, accuracy, and cleanliness. Guest reviews will be used as a way to check and enforce the standards.

An Airbnb ad

An Airbnb ad

It has also hired Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre boutique hotel chain, as “head of global hospitality.” He will be overseeing the lab.

A reporter for Fast Company observes that Airbnb is "walking a delicate line here. In cities where it’s faced legal troubles, it claims that the rentals listed on the site are informal, neighborly transactions, not illegal short-stay hotels. By emphasizing professional standards for hosts, they may improve the guest experience, but hosting will become a much more serious undertaking, and it’ll be harder legally to claim it as an informal activity. It may also be harder to attract casual hosts."

Indeed, officials and landlords in several jusrisdictions are cracking down on services such as Airbnb. One former host in the Los Angeles area said she was forced to stop listing her apartment after threats from her landlord, who said it violated tenant rules. 

Since Airbnb’s founding five years ago, more than 8.5 million people have rented rooms, apartments and homes through its service. 

Elsewhere, municipalities have tried to get the company to collect hotel taxes. After originally resisting, Airbnb said it’s now open to collecting room rental taxes and will work with city officials in New York and San Francisco to craft new legislation that spells out the rules. “We believe it makes sense for our community of hosts to pay occupancy tax to the cities in which they live, with exceptions under certain thresholds, and we are eager to discuss how this might be made possible,” Airbnb said in a statement.

With total room taxes in New York City ringing in at 14.5%, this could drive away some business for Airbnb.