Airbnb hits back against the AH&LA's report on Boston

Boston

The American Hotel & Lodging Association's latest report on Airbnb's effect on the industry focuses on Boston and reiterates many of the study's findings in other tier-1 cities.

Like Miami and Phoenix, Boston's Airbnb hosts overwhelmingly list their rooms for rent more than 180 days per year -- pulling in $25 million and more than half of the company's revenue in the city (52 percent). On top of that, 45 percent of the city's operators list multiple units for rent. Roughly 83 percent of Airbnb's revenue in Boston comes from operators who list their apartment for more than 30 days a year.

Paul Sacco, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Lodging Association, echoes earlier statements from the AH&LA that the study isn't looking to stamp out competition, but to pressure lawmakers into evening the playing field. Many home-sharing operators don't pay taxes or comply with costly safety regulations, allowing them to sprout out of any dwelling.

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"Unregulated hotels operated in residential properties are disruptive to communities and pose serious safety concerns to the millions of tourists who visit our state annually, and to the residents who live and work in our neighborhoods," Sacco said. "The rise of these commercial hosts represents a large and growing revenue stream for short-term online rental platforms like Airbnb and a challenge for policymakers who are trying to protect communities and ensure a level playing field for businesses in Massachusetts."

The landlords Have Spoken

With this latest report, however, Airbnb is hitting back. The company, which is valued at roughly $25.5 billion, called the study "factually inaccurate" in a statement, and disputed the numbers AH&LA reported. Christopher Nulty, spokesperson for Airbnb, said 86 percent of Boston's Airbnb hosts are sharing their primary residence and earning an average of $5,900 for 45 nights a year. He also called the study "just another example of the [hotel] industry’s attempt to mislead and manipulate to stifle competition."

But is the company beginning to capitulate to the industry's demands? Pressured on all sides by industry trade groups, lawmakers and even residents upset at their apartment complexes being used as hotels, Airbnb recently came to an agreement to begin paying 6 percent hotel taxes in Pennsylvania starting July 1.

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf called the agreement a "win-win for hosts and the commonwealth" that will help level the playing field for Airbnb hosts and hotels.

“I thank Airbnb for working with us to help thousands of hosts across the state to be compliant with the law,” said revenue secretary Eileen McNulty. “This agreement will generate nearly $1 million in new revenue for the commonwealth to help fund vital state services.”

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