As ShareBetter ramps up its aggressive smear campaign against Airbnb, the platform is fighting back. This week Airbnb filed a formal complaint against the coalition, alleging that ShareBetter has failed to register as a lobbyist, disclose its funding sources, and file the required expense reports.
Glenn Carter, Hostfully Director of Marketing, joins Jasper to discuss the showdown between ShareBetter and Airbnb, explaining how the coalition functions as a mouthpiece for the hotel industry. They also cover the exponential growth Airbnb is experiencing in London and the resolution to the incident of racism in Big Bear last year when an Airbnb host canceled a reservation at the last minute because the guest was Asian American.
To wrap up today’s episode, Glenn and Jasper address a question posed via the Facebook group around cleaning white bedding and towels. Listen in as they brainstorm ideas for keeping your whites white and your Airbnb looking spit spot spic and span!
Article #1: Airbnb Bookings in London More Than Double in Just One Year Despite Concerns Over ‘Lack of Regulation’
Article #2: Airbnb Host Who Canceled Reservation Using Racist Comment Must Pay $5,000
Article #3: Airbnb Fights Back Against Lobby Groups, Demands Info on Their Funding Sources
Q: How do I deal with makeup marks on white bedding and towels?
Jasper’s Feedback Around Current Airbnb Stay in SoHo
This episode is sponsored by Aviva IQ. Aviva IQ automates messages to your Airbnb guests. It's also free!
Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 172
Jasper: Welcome to Get Paid for Your Pad, a definitive show on Airbnb hosting, featuring the best advice on how to maximize profits from your Airbnb listing as well as real life experiences from Airbnb hosts all over the world. Welcome.
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Jasper: Welcome to Get Paid for Your Pad, I’m your host Jasper and I am here with Glenn who is going to be co-hosting this podcast. Glenn of course is the Director of Marketing at Hostfully. How’s it going, Glenn?
Glenn: It’s going great – I’m here in D.C. and they’re experiencing a bit of a heat wave, so, anytime I step out of my hotel I bring a towel with me.
Jasper: It’s pretty similar here, I’m in New York, It’s very hot. I’m actually sitting in the living room in my Airbnb and only wearing underpants, because there’s no air conditioning, there is in the bedroom, not in the living room. The sun is shining through the windows, I had to close the windows for this podcast, because as you’re aware, New York is a busy and loud city.
Glenn: That’s a good mental image for your listeners, Jasper. Sitting in his underwear as he’s recording his podcast.
Jasper: Not sure people really want to visualize that, but —
Glenn: I have to apologize too, as I mentioned, I’m in a hotel. Work is footing the bill for this, normally I’d be staying in an Airbnb, so, don’t judge me.
Jasper: Thou shall be forgiving, Glenn. Anyway, let’s start with the news in London. There’s an article that came out that talks about the growth in London despite a lot of regulations that have been put in place, recently. London saw a large surge of overnight visitors in 2016 vs 2015, there was a growth of 130 percent and the market share that Airbnb now has for London’s overnight visitors went from 4 percent in 2015 to 9 percent in 2016. Nine percent, that is really quite a lot.
Glenn: yeah, it is. And that’s not really just a London story. Airbnb’s grown, everyone’s aware that Airbnb has grown. I think that article said that 2 million for 2015 and for 2016 that’s 4.6 million, and who knows what that is now. One of the stats I saw on the article is that each night there’s over 13,000 bookings on Airbnb in London a night. So, that’s pretty amazing.
Jasper: When you mentioned the 2 million that went up to 4.6, that’s the nights booked?
Glenn: Yes, the nights booked, sorry.
Jasper: I was going to say, that’s a lot of listings.
Glenn: Every household in London.
Jasper: But, so, if Airbnb has a 9 percent market share, and there’s 13,000 bookings on any given day, that basically means if you multiple that by 11, so almost 150,000 visitors per night, that’s a lot of visitors. The article also mentions in the first four months of 2017, there was an additional 55 percent uplift in the number of night books for Airbnb than 2016. That I find interesting because London has recently implemented strict regulations. Hosts are only allowed to rent out for 90 days for entire units, so I’m curious to see what kind of effect that will have on the amount of nights that are getting booked. More specifically, it’s the enforcement that Airbnb has decided to put on their website. So, your calendar will be automatically blocked. I’m not sure if that was enforced the first four months of 2017, it may be starting May or June, I’m very curious to see if this growth is going to flatten off, or even go down a little bit.
Glenn: That 90-day restriction, is that for people’s primary residence as well, even if it’s your primary residence you can only rent out for 90 days?
Jasper: It’s for all entire units. It’s similar rules that are in Amsterdam and Paris as well. Paris, I believe is 120 days, Amsterdam is 60. It’ll be interesting to see how that’s going to affect the growth. The next thing we want to talk about is a story that came up in April, a story that went viral, it was about an Airbnb guest who rented a place in Big Bear, California. It was a ski trip with her fiancé and friends, and as she was getting closer to the check-in day, she wanted to change the reservation, the host got upset and cancelled the reservation and making some racist remarks, like “one word says it all: Asian.” “This is why we have Trump.” A bunch of very mean remarks, the guest was very upset. She posted an emotion video on YouTube and it went all over social media channels. The host has been fined $5,000, and she has agreed to pay and attend a college course in Asian American studies, this was published by the California Department of Fair and Public Housing. So, the case has been resolved.
Glenn: You mentioned the host has been banned from Airbnb itself. That was a terrible thing to do, I don’t know what a fitting punishment is, this is probably it. Having to attend the course, the host has to issue a personal apology and participate in a community education panel, perform a volunteer service, and a whole litany of things. Rightfully so, that was hateful
Jasper: It’s a pretty good sign to all Airbnb hosts out there, if you get upset by your guests, count to ten, relax, meditate, and then response.
Glenn: In no instance should you be hurling your racist slurs at your guests
Jasper: And if you do have racist feelings, then maybe Airbnb is not the place for you in the first place. The guest said she was pleased with the settlement. She hopes victims for discrimination will come forward with their own stores.
Glenn: It’s good to see a little bit of this resolved in this case.
Jasper: Absolutely, absolutely. Another story that came out is about the ongoing fight between Airbnb and some of its critics – a coalition called Share Better, which is from the city, hotel industry in the city of New York. They have been very active in accusing Airbnb of stuff, filing complaints, running TV ads and spreading a lot of negative publicity about Airbnb. Airbnb is now striking back, filing a formal complaint with the State Ethics Panel, charging the coalition of unions, lawmakers and opponents have engaged in illegal lobbying. If you’re running a lobbying organization and you spent more than $5,000 annually, you have to disclose where funding is coming from and Airbnb is saying they haven’t done that. What are your thoughts, Glenn?
Glenn: Share Better spent heavily on lobbying since last year and they’re playing a key role in the clamp down in Airbnb on the areas across America. I’m not an expert in compliance law in New York, but I know Share Better is one of the biggest lobbyist for the hotel industry, so it makes sense they’d need to disclose their sources of funding, like you mentioned. I don’t think those will be a surprise to anyone in familiar with Share Better, it’s the hotel industry funding this, but they also need to report expenses and file bi-monthly reports and all that. This coalition should have done all those things since it’s clearly a mouth piece. What instigated all of this is the anti- Airbnb ads and editorials that Share Better has been doing. There was a report late last week, essentially it uncovered that Share Better was hiring Private Investigators to pose as Airbnb guests and to stay in people’s homes and try to uncover whether people were complying with regulations. They’d report those Airbnb hosts to the mayor’s office. It’s a very aggressive tactic by Share Better and it’s pretty unnecessary. Airbnb showed pretty open willingness to negotiation with local municipalities, they’ve signed over 250 agreements to date with local municipalities, they even enforce the regulations on their site. In Amsterdam, they will enforce stay limits right on the website, so they’ve showed a willingness to work with municipalities and what Share Better is doing is very aggressive.
Jasper: Interesting that they chose the name Share Better. It’s basically like Airbnb hate website. I’d probably call it Don’t Share at All, it sounds like a better name to represent what they’re doing. I don’t think their interested in changing the way people share or improving it, more like trying to create negative publicity about Airbnb. On the website, they’re saying it allows racism to flourish, public safety concerns for guests, Airbnb is only interested in itself. It seems more like a hate website.
Glenn: Yeah, well, it sounds like a lobby group to me. It’s kind of offensive. There are some issues worth discussing when talking about sharing economy, and they do involve housing and racism, and those are important issues to discuss, but we need to do that in logical, honest ways, and Share Better doesn’t offer that, it’s just a mouthpiece for the hotel industry to basically keep their profits because Airbnb has shown theirs a better way out there. I find it quite offensive because it’s dangerous.
Jasper: The fight will continue and I’m sure there’s more to come in this area.
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Jasper: Let’s go to a reader question that’s posted in the Facebook group, Get Paid for Your Pad, where hosts share experiences and ask questions and stuff. AN interesting question came up. The lady who asked, her name is Tao, she’s from Seattle. She basically asked how she should deal with lipstick and make up marks she will find on pillowcases, sheets, etc. She uses whites, and those things stain, and those are tricky to get out and clean the sheets after. How do I prevent this? How do I deal with it? Should I charge extra? There’s been a pretty active discussion so I wanted to go through the different recommendations that people have made. First, one is good, provide your guest with removal wipes, if you provide them, they’ll use them before they dive into your white linen bed. Also, a bunch of cleaning products that are apparently good for getting rid of stains, a few that are mentioned: Vanish Ultra Action, Oxyclean, Triple Action Shout. I’m not familiar with these, they must be American, apparently, they do a good job at removing stains. Another good recommendation, leave the sheets in water with bleach overnight. Then wash them at 90 degrees. Not sure if that’s good for sustainability of sheets, but I’m not a cleaning expert. Another is to provide brown towels for the removal of makeup so you won’t see stain as much. My favorite re commendation is someone posted a picture of a note that the host puts in the bathroom. It’s very nice, it looks nice in a green frame, it says “Your help please: make up products and face medications and creams will stain linen and towels. Please use the makeup remover that is provided. Please avoid using hand towels or bath towels.” It also says don’t flush anything down the toilet, thank you, we appreciate it. Also, it reminds guests to be mindful. It’s a polite note, it looks friendly with a colored frame around it. Those are the recommendations that came up, do you have anything to add to that, Glenn?
Glenn: Yeah, first of all, I’m not a cleaning expert. Triple Action Shout sounds like a rock band to me. These things are unavoidable. Things are going to happen. You’re going to have to replace them. You can do those things to minimize them. I think the best way is to have a reserve fund to replace those things. A lot of Airbnb hosts, and I’ve done in the past, is have a small cleaning fee. Most people do this, but in this case, the person who asked didn’t have one. Right off the bat, I’d say that if you charge an extra $10 or $20 per stay, you can have that reserve.
Jasper: That’s great advice, and for those who are more interested in cleaning tips, episode 67 and episode 153 we talk about a lot of different cleaning aspects and how to arrange perfect Airbnb turnover. By the way, I’m working on creating an inventory of our podcast episodes out there. I have about 170 episodes published now, a lot of people are new and they don’t want to download 170 podcasts, so they’ll say, “I’m interested in learning about xyz, which podcasts should I listen to?” So, I’m working on it, but for now, here’s a quick tip on how to find the episode on the topic that you’re looking for. If you google Get Paid for Your Pad and the key word for what you’d like to learn more about, for example: Cleaning. Google will magically show you the episodes about cleaning. Glenn, anything else?
Glenn: I think we covered all the Airbnb bases today.
Jasper: Okay, cool. So, what I’ll do now then is talk about a few things in the Airbnb I’m staying in now. I’m staying in New York, here in SoHo. Which is a pretty awesome neighborhood. I’m in the NoLIta, it’s a pretty nice area, lots of little bars and restaurants. It’s been crazy because there was a very famous YouTuber, he was signing autographs or taking selfies with people, I don’t know. But for three days there’s been a massive crowd around the neighborhood. Thousands of people waiting for Noland Paul? Have you heard of him?
Glenn: Doesn’t ring a bell.
Jasper: He’s basically a Youtuber, some guy who does Vlogs on a daily basis. Man, it just kind of shows you have famous these online celebrities can get. It’s been really hot here in New York, about 90 degrees or so and people are standing on the sidewalk for hours to catch a glimpse of him. It made a big impression on me. I’m glad they’re gone because I couldn’t open the door, there were literally people on my doorstep. But anyway, it’s been pretty fun here, where I’m staying. I’m sharing it with a friend of mine from Australia. There’s two things I noticed this host could improve on. First thing, has to do with the bedrooms. I think we’ve talked about this. When you’re coming from another continent, you generally have jetlag, and so did I. I was coming from Amsterdam, which is six hours ahead of New York, so I get tired pretty early on in the evening and I wake up pretty early. What I’m really trying to do is go to bed a bit later and sleep later as well. The first couple days I was waking up at 4, 5 a.m., I was really trying to shift that, but it’s kind of hard when 5:30 am, the sun rises and it’s super bright in your room and you don’t have any good curtains to block that sunlight. What I did, I used all my creativity, to literally build some sort of sound studio now, I’ve grabbed everything I could use to build a wall in front of my window. All sorts of blankest and a steel bar I had to put a counterweight on one side. It looks like a fort. I finally managed to create a situation where the light is blocked out enough to sleep until like 8 or 9 am. That was the first thing I wanted to mention. Take a look at your bedroom. Go in at 7 and see how bright it is. If you provide some curtain that black out the light, a lot of guests will appreciate it. The second thing I noticed has to do with WIFI. I’ve seen this a lot, you arrive and the WIFI is written on the router. The general passwords and names are insanely difficult. There’s a lot that pop up and a lot have exact same networks except one or two characters and they’re like fifteen characters and mixed up. It takes me like 20 minutes to get all the passwords in. There’s a simple solution to prevent this hassle. You can change the name of your WIFI. In Amsterdam, I changed mine to Jasper’s Legend and the password is Traveling Dutchman. Which is very easy to remember –by the way, that WIFI doesn’t work anymore, don’t waste energy trying to find it. You can go to WikiHow to google how to change your WIFI, it explains exactly how to change the network name and password. You can change it to something friendly, a friendly password that’s not too easy but won’t take 20 minutes trying to figure out.
Glenn: Yeah, exactly. I’m still trying to get the mental image of you building a fort in your underwear out of my head.
Jasper: I’m sorry Glenn, there are worse things that can happen in life.
Glenn: Yeah, I think I need some therapy.
Jasper: Yeah, well, hopefully you’ll get over it. This is the end of this episode. Thank you so much for joining today, it’s always a pleasure having you.
Glenn: Thanks so much for having me jasper.
Jasper: Yep, and we’ll be back a few weeks from now, and of course, there will be another episode of Get Paid for Your Pad on Monday and of course every Friday we will be discussing the news with a different co-host. Every week it’s somebody from the Hostfully team. Thanks for listening everybody. I hope you enjoyed the podcast and we’ll see you next time.