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EP180: This Week in the World of Airbnb

I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.  

Creating an account on Airbnb requires agreeing to the platform’s Community Commitment. When Airbnb became aware of users making plans to attend a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the company took action to delete those accounts, and CEO Brian Chesky spoke out against Unite the Right, saying, “The violence, racism and hatred demonstrated by Neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and white supremacists should have no place in this world.”

Jasper is joined by Hostfully marketing guru, Glenn Carter, to discuss Airbnb’s strong stance against the white nationalist philosophy. They also cover the latest in Airbnb’s ongoing conflict with the hotel industry, examining the Hotel Association of New York City’s hiring of a private security firm to hunt down illegal activity on the platform.

But the news isn’t all bad! Glenn and Jasper also mention Airbnb’s latest milestone: The home-sharing site’s unprecedented four million listings – which account for more than the top five hotel chains combined. Other wins for Airbnb this week? They have announced a partnership with Vice Media that will promote their Experiences travel packages, and you can now book an entire island in Belize on Airbnb for a romantic getaway. Listen in to learn about these stories, as well as Google’s entry into the short-term rental space.

Topics Covered

Article #1: Airbnb is Deactivating Accounts of People Trying to Attend a White Supremacist Rally

  • Airbnb banned all accounts with suspected affiliation
  • Chesky doubled down after rally, citing Airbnb Community Commitment
  • Some believe Airbnb should allow accounts, ‘everyone has right to opinion’
  • Others support decision, agree that hate speech is criminal in nature
  • Airbnb has right to ban users from platform
  • Difficult to hide behind veil of free speech when advocate violence

Article #2: Airbnb Now Has More Listings Worldwide Than the Top Five Hotel Brands Combined

  • Airbnb has 4M listings in 191 countries (500K in 2012)
  • US remains biggest market (660K listings), followed by France, Italy, Spain and UK
  • 2M listings are instantly bookable
  • Popularity stems from desire to earn income from asset already own
  • Would be interesting to know number of hosts (average of three listings/host in March 2016)
  • Regulations requiring listing to be primary residence may alter data

Article #3: Airbnb Has Shut Down 524 Portland Locations Since January

  • Violated policy against multiple listings
  • City regulations require operators to live in home they’re renting

Article #4: Vice Partners with Airbnb to Offer Travel Packages

  • Youth-focused digital media company, promotes ‘living on the edge’
  • Joint venture will give away 100 customized tours
  • Moving forward, Airbnb will keep tour profits
  • Vice will receive advertising spending from Airbnb to market Experiences

Article #5: You Can Rent an Entire Island for $595 a Night on Airbnb

  • Bird Island in Belize
  • Perfect setting for romantic getaway
  • Accommodates up to six people

Article #6: Hotel Association Hires Ex-Cop to Track Illegal Activity on Airbnb

  • Former NYPD officer, Secret Service who founded private security firm
  • Undercover looking for criminal activity caused by Airbnb users

Article #7: Meet Airbnb’s Newest Competitor: Google

  • Google making listings viewable through hotel search engine
  • 7,000 listings exclusive to Europe thus far
  • Links to Priceline and booking.com
  • Google receives commission for bookings
  • Looking to increase inventory, partners
  • Airbnb as potential partner

Resources Mentioned

Article #1: buzzfeed.com/mbvd/airbnb-is-deactivating-accounts-of-people-trying-to-attend?utm_term=.ooPDZ6p0y#.hoJx2ozMk

Article #2: businessinsider.com/airbnb-total-worldwide-listings-2017-8

Article #3: wweek.com/news/city/2017/08/12/524-of-portlands-airbnbs-shut-down-by-the-company-since-january

Article #4: wsj.com/articles/vice-partners-with-airbnb-to-offer-travel-packages-1502719233

Article #5: cnbc.com/2017/08/11/you-can-rent-a-private-island-on-airbnb-for-595-a-night.html

Article #6: nypost.com/2017/08/14/hotel-association-hires-ex-cop-to-track-illegal-activity-on-airbnb

Article #7: housingwire.com/articles/40978-meet-airbnbs-newest-competitor-google



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Complete Transcript for Get Paid for Your Pad Episode 180

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.

AD: I began using a really cool service from Aviva IQ, and it’s made my life so much easier. My guests love receiving all the important details about their stay exactly when they need it. I love all the five-star reviews I’m getting on communication. Check them out at www.AvivaIQ.com

Jasper: Welcome everybody, another episode of Get Paid for Your Pad. I am your host Jasper and I’m hosting with Glenn at Hostfully. Glenn, how is it going?

Glenn Carter: It’s great Jasper, how are you?

Jasper: I’m great. I’m currently in Las Vegas, it’s a little hot out here, but it’s a been a lot of fun so far. Where are you currently?

Glenn: I’m in Ottawa, so probably not as hot. Have you tried your luck at any of the fine establishments?

Jasper: I don’t gamble. I think gambling is a waste of money

Glenn: That’s very wise of you, I feel the same way. But I think they’re doing well in Vegas.

Jasper: It always shocks me how many people are sitting behind these fruit machines. Black Jack and Poker seem a little more interesting to me, but it’s still giving away your money. Then there’s this game called Craps I don’t really know what it’s about, it seems like people are having fun though. There’s always a lot of cheering. I think you’re playing together?

Glenn: I s that the one you’re always seeing in the movies? With the high rollers?

Jasper: Yeah, that’s the one.

Glenn: I have no idea. It seems like a lot of fun.

Jasper: I’m sure it costs money though.

Glenn: I think we’re the worst people to talk about Vegas with.

Jasper: Ottawa is always interesting – in May there’s a tulip festival in Ottawa, did you know that?

Glenn: I did, and your home country has something to do with that.

Jasper: Do you know what it is?

Glenn:  I do, but I’ll let you tell it

Jasper: In the second World War, Canada hosted our Royal Family in Ottawa and to show their gratitude, we’ve been sending 20,000 tulips to Ottawa every year and they’ve been using the tulips to make the town more comfortable.

Glenn: It’s absolutely gorgeous, check out the tulip festival in May. I think even during the war, one of your members of the royal family as born there. I think the government took steps to convert the hospital room to Dutch territory so they could still be born in Dutch territory.

Jasper: I didn’t know that. You know your Dutch history, that’s good to hear.

Glenn: We have a long history our two countries, so it’s quite interesting.

Jasper: Although every time I go to Canada, I get picked for a second screening. It’s always an effort to get into Canada for me. You’re trying to protect your borders from dangerous Dutch people like me.

Glenn: Exactly, next time just tell them you know Glenn and they’ll let you in.

Jasper: I’ll try that. Let’s get into the news. There’s one news item that will be really hard to ignore because it’s been all over the news and it has to do with the white supremacist, I’d never heard that term. They went to Charlottesville to hold a demonstration, some members tried to book accommodation on Airbnb, and Airbnb decided to ban all people who they suspect might have an affiliation with the white supremacists and so they’re not allowed to stay on Airbnb. There’s been a long discussion on the Airbnb news group, everyone has different opinions. It’s sensitive and I had to moderate because it got heated, but what are your thoughts on this?

Glenn: I’m allowed to give my personal insight on this?

Jasper: Go ahead. I always enjoy your opinion.

Glenn: Just to give context, prior to the rally, Airbnb took a strong stance, they noticed certain users using Airbnb to coordinate lodgings, they shut down those accounts and affiliated accounts as well.  That created a fire storm, then everything happened exacerbated this. Then Brain Chesky doubled down on Airbnb what they’d done prior to say that these types of people aren’t welcome on their platform and you agree to certain community standards when you sign up. Just a quick rant here, I’m a big proponent of free speech in Canada, similar to US, but I think there are certain issues that we have moved on from and are no longer legitimate areas of debate. White supremacy is one of those. The idea that there are still people in the world that believe what these alt-right supremacists believe terrifies me. I think we’re beyond freedom of speech issues to more of a hate speech issue, which in my mind is criminal in nature. I don’t know about US laws, but we have those in Canada. If the actions of someone else makes a certain group of people feel fearful for their lives, that’s hate. I think Chesky did a brave thing, that’s more than I can say for the US president. He’s brave because he’s going to become a public face in a public issue when he came out against these racists.

Jasper: Right, if Airbnb would have allowed these people to stay on the platform, I could see another ad coming up.

Glenn: They already accused them of supporting terrorism, so throw some white supremacy in there.

Jasper: Now they have a policy that requires members to accept people regardless of race, origin, etc. But when they see people using behavior that’s anti Airbnb behavior, they can remove them. Some people are saying that everyone has the right to their opinion, Airbnb shouldn’t discriminate and the host can make the decisions. But at the same time, they’re a company and they have the right to decide who gets to have an account and who doesn’t. They’ve deleted accounts for lesser issues, this is stated in their terms, they have the right to delete accounts. I agree. I think it’s a good sign to show that one race isn’t superior to another, they’re saying some pretty terrible things. Pretty much wanting members of the other races to have bad things happen to them. I agree on this topic. It’s been all over the news. WE have happier news to discuss, too. Let’s move on unless you have any more comments on this?

Glenn: No, I think it’s pretty clear and it’s difficult to hide behind the veil of free speech when you’re advocating violence. That’s where you lose that right in my opinion.

Jasper: There’s a lot of news this week. There’s an article in the Business Insider that Airbnb has more listings worldwide than the top five hotel brands combined. Airbnb has reached a new milestone. Four million listings worldwide, which is a lot of listings. I remember in 2012 I started hosting and there were about 500,000. It’s gone 8-fold in just five years. They’re offering listings in 191 countries, the US remains the biggest market with 660,000 listings, followed by France, Spain and the UK. So, Airbnb definitely still showing a lot of growth. Another interesting thing, 2 million of the listings are instantly bookable, which is 40 percent. Something Airbnb is striving toward, getting more listings to be instantly booked.

Glenn: This is very impressive. I think you’ve been writing about Airbnb longer than I have, they were pushing 1 million listings when I started. Which is still a big deal. The largest was Marriott and they were at 1.1 million. Very early on in the game Airbnb had more listings. Up to 4 million listings we’re getting into different territory here. Goes to show the different popularity about how some people want to earn supplemental income from an asset they own.

Jasper: I’m curious about how many hosts there are. We have 4 million listings. What’s your guess?

Glenn: I think it’s a lot. The vast majority I think are individual listings. That would be an interesting statistic to find out. That’s the prime argument of the anti- Airbnb crowd, that it’s a couple of commercial operators with a big percent of the listings. I’d guess we’re probably 3/4, 1:1 host to property. It would be really interesting to see those numbers.

Jasper: The latest numbers I’d seen about hosts are about a year ago in March 2016, there was an average of 3 listings per host. At the time that was 1 million listings. If we sue that average of 3 listings per host, that would come to about 1.3 million hosts. That would be my best estimate. I think the average number of listings per host is going up and I think the reason for that is that a lot of people are outsourcing their Airbnb listings these days. When I travel I always get in touch with people doing Airbnb in the city I am. Sometimes they’re helping friends, they don’t even have a website. Then they kind of expand a bit and they have 15 or 20 listings, at the same time, those are still individual hosts, they’re outsourcing the management of their listings.

Glenn: a year or two ago, you’re probably right with the numbers, but I think now with all the municipalities managing the regulation, I think the numbers going to be quite higher. The average I don’t think is accurate. There’s a lot of property management companies who may have 100 properties, but I don’t know if that statistic would could. We need better data.

Jasper: Just the fact that one company has 100 listings, doesn’t mean it’s a commercial big real estate company.

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Jasper: Let’s see what else is out there. Anything, Glenn?

Glenn: I like the new partnership between Vice Media and Airbnb. For those of you who don’t know what Vice media is, it’s an alternative news outlet that’s gained a lot of popularity in the last couple years with the millennial crowd or younger. So, Airbnb and Vice partnered to provide customized experiences. It’s going to kick off with a contest, if you want to enter look out for this –100 people are going to receive 1 of 4 customized tours in South Africa, Paris, New York, and I believe Tokyo, free of charge. The idea is that future tours are obviously going to charge so the profits from these tour fees are going to be kept by Airbnb and Vice is going to keep some advertising spending from these experiences. I find this interesting for two reasons. One, Vice Media has always to show what living on the edge looks like with their alternative media brand, but now it’s inviting you to experience it yourself. I can see this becoming a lot more popular with younger generations. It’s also good for Airbnb because they’re trying to expand, and by adding this youth friendly media organization, it adds a lot of credibility. I think it’s great and positive for both.

Jasper: and Airbnb offers 2,500 experience packages in 35 cities. On a personal note, I just heard from Airbnb, I signed up for the experiences a couple months ago and never heard from them, and now I’ve got a message and they have too many applications and mine is on hold until further notice. No Airbnb hosting for me. One day, I’ll be an Airbnb experienced host.

Glenn: Do you have to give what your experience would be as part of the application?

Jasper: Yes, it’s quite a bit of a process. I had to upload pictures and create description, think about pricing, I definitely spent a couple hours putting it together. I will be an experience host at some point. By the way, I saw an article on CNBC, you can rent an entire island on Airbnb now. I thought that was cool. Its $595 a night. It’s a small island in Belize called Bird Island. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic get-away for a couple. Are you looking for a romantic get-away, Glenn?

Glenn: I have three young kids under the age of 7, so…that word has left our vocabulary for the time being. How do you get to the island?

Jasper: That’s a good question. I don’t know. What I do know is that the island can host 6 people. There’s a tiny jetty on the island and you get over there with small boat. It’s a small island. Very tiny and very shallow. Seems pretty close to some coral reefs so there might be some nice snorkeling. IT would be an interesting place to book for a honeymoon.

Glenn: It sounds like you’re inviting me out to the island, are you paying?

Jasper: It’s always been my dream to spend a few days on an island with you. Talk Airbnb while sipping on coconut water.

Glenn: Wow, that sounds amazing. Let’s look into that. I’ll run it by my wife.

Jasper: Anything else you wanted to discuss? I have a few more items I see up here.

Glenn: No, go ahead.

Jasper: Well, the hotel association has made another move to hammer Airbnb into the ground. They hired an ex-cop to track illegal activity on the platform. This a guy who used to work for the New York police department and now runs his own security firm. The hotel industry has gone a step further after their frightening ads, now they’re sending in the big guns.

Glenn: This is pretty interesting. They said they’d do this, so I guess we have a face to what they’d be doing. I was hoping they get like Bruce Willis to do it or some masked vigilante – sure, go ahead. It’s not surprising.

Jasper: Another thing I mentioned before on the podcast, there’s a couple articles out there that say meet Airbnb’s newest competitor google. They started including vacation rentals when you search for hotels. So far, google has 7,000 in Europe. They’re allowing guests to use Priceline and Booking.Com to book the stays. We’ll have to keep an eye on that moving forward. Google could be a pretty strong opponent.

Glenn: I’m not sure how they’re going to monetize this to allow searchers to book their stays. I’m a little confused as to what their ultimate intention is. I don’t know if they’re going to allow listings. I think all those platforms have a pretty good hold on that market, I don’t know if it’s a direct competitor to Airbnb, or more of a competitor to Expedia or booking.com. Though, if they’re allowing booking.com, that’s interesting too. They want users to get onto their site. This will be interesting.

Jasper: My understanding is that google makes a commission on every person they refer from these platforms. I’m curious to see if Airbnb is going to show up in these search results, then send a link to their listing.

Glenn: I was confused if it was competitive move by Google, but yeah.

Jasper: Awesome, well Glenn, thank you so much for joining me today and hosting this podcast. Always a pleasure. I’ll do some research about the little island and I’ll let you know where to be.

Glenn: Sounds good, I’ll pack my swim trunks.

Jasper: Sounds good! For listeners, thanks for listening. By the way, if you want to be updated with the news, the Airbnb news group on Facebook is getting very active. Lots of people engaging, commenting, etc. Go check that. If you search in Facebook for Airbnb news, it’ll definitely come up. And of course, there’s always the Get Paid for Your Pad Facebook group. That one is meant for questions about Airbnb hosting. With that, thanks for listening. I’ll see you next time.