Expansion and Innovation for Airbnb

Brian Chesky, founder and CEO of Airbnb, has been outspoken about the company’s plans to disrupt the previously static hospitality industry. In its progressive stances, willingness to experiment, and rapid expansion, Airbnb is already well on its way to sharing economy domination.

In an interview with Fortune, Chesky sat down to talk over some of these plans, and what he sees as next steps for the company. According to Chesky, part of the disruptive force propelling Airbnb forward comes from the fact that the company is not actually competing much with traditional hotels, contrary to popular opinion. Chesky highlights that Airbnb serves a dramatically different demographic from traditional hotels, as most of its customers would not have taken their trips had Airbnb not been an option.

Chesky emphasizes that Airbnb is not attempting to simply act as a substitute for hotels; rather, the company aims to upend the static hospitality industry to rethink the way we travel. In this quest, Airbnb is already making rapid progress. Through its Airbnb for Business Program, it seeks to grow its business travel segment, an area in which it can grow exponentially, as 70% of all hotel stays in the U.S. are currently booked by business travelers.

The company also recently announced a plan to grow its business in China under a new name and brand, in hopes of succeeding where countless other Western tech firms, including fellow gig economy giant Uber, have failed.

In conjunction with other new additions the company is refining—including its acquisition of vacation rentals manager Luxury Retreat, new features such as “Trips” and “Experiences” enabling users to fuse travel with activities—these initiatives are elements of Airbnb’s overarching goal to become a “one-stop- shop” for travel across the globe.

“So we have this basic “the world is a village” type idea where all these new micro-entrepreneurs can be started,” Chesky concluded. “And that’s kind of a vision of our economy.”

- Namrata

Airbnb Closes $1B Round of Funding

Airbnb recently continued its transformation of the travel industry when the hospitality giant closed a $1 billion round of funding, according to a March 9 CNBC article. The company is now worth an astounding $31 billion.

Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has raised more than $3 billion. The company also became profitable in the second quarter of 2016, securing enough funds to delay plans to launch an initial public offering (I.P.O.), according to Airbnb’s newly-filed forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Airbnb has long been on the radar as a potential IPO candidate, and its completed funding round comes at the heels of Snap’s I.P.O. Snapchat, whose high private value was similar to Airbnb's, saw its shares seized immediately upon public debut, yielding a $3.4 billion I.P.O.

However, CEO Brian Chesky indicated in an interview with The New York Times that Airbnb would not be opposed to an eventual public offering. 

“I think companies should go public when it’s the best thing for the mission, but we don’t have those immediate needs,” Chesky said. While Airbnb has not released an official statement regarding plans for its newly-acquired capital, the company has recently been harnessing its billions in venture capital funding to make investments of its own. It recently confirmed acquisitions of payments startup Tilt and vacation rentals manager Luxury Retreat for hundreds of millions, in conjunction with announcing its intent to invest in restaurant reservation app Resy.

Coupled with the launch of new features that expand Airbnb’s offerings—such as “Trips” and “Experiences” that enable vacationers to book unique activities through Airbnb’s platform—the investments and the recently-acquired funding set the hospitality company in the perfect position to accomplish its goal of becoming a “one-stop- shop” for travel across the globe.

- Namrata

Airbnb Supports Transgender Student

On February 24, 2017, Airbnb took another stride in its mission to support the disenfranchised.

Along with many other leaders in the fields of technology and innovation, Airbnb plans to sign an “amicus brief”—colloquially referred to as a friend of the court brief—in support of the case of a 17-year-old transgender student in Virginia.

The crux of the case hinges on a high school student’s ability to use the bathrooms corresponding to his chosen gender identity. On February 22nd , 2017, the new presidential administration revoked former President Obama’s guidance that instructed school districts across the nation to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

The administrative action faced immediate and far-reaching backlash. Notably, many tech companies, ranging from Apple to Box to, of course, Airbnb, have rallied behind the LGBTQIA+ community in fierce support of transgender students’ right to choose which bathroom they would like to use. The supportive reaction aligns with the deep-seated roots many tech companies, including Airbnb, have in liberal San Francisco, an area historically correlated strongly with the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights.

As far as its company ethos goes, Airbnb has left little doubt as to its relentless support for the rights of the disenfranchised and oppressed. Just this year, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky made national headlines when he openly invited victims of the new administration’s crackdown on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries to stay in Airbnb accommodations free of charge.

In recent years, Airbnb has continued to demonstrate its commitment to political discourse and public policy, using its immense resources to influence change, create new policy, and support causes relating to everything from the economy to social justice issues.

- Namrata

Airbnb's Luxury Market Plans

We’re accustomed to thinking of Airbnb as a cheap alternative to hotels, but the hospitality giant is proving it’s more than just a way to save a buck. In a plan to move further into the luxury market, Airbnb is currently in the late stages of acquiring Luxury retreats, a Montreal-based startup that specializes in luxury vacation homes and travel. 

According to TechCrunch, the potential deal for Luxury Retreats is said to be closing at a price around $200 million, rendering it Airbnb’s largest acquisition since its inception in 2008. While neither Airbnb nor Luxury Retreats has publicly confirmed the sale, Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in a statement, “We are always looking to provide our community with access to new and different options.”

With this deal, Airbnb harnesses the potential to move into the “luxury” vacation market and appeal to a broader demographic than it currently does. Moreover, given that Luxury Retreats is based in Canada, this deal could represent an opportunity for Airbnb to expand and enrich its Canadian presence.

As Airbnb’s largest acquisition, with over 4,000 properties across the globe, Luxury Retreats’s ethos aligns perfectly with Airbnb’s ambition to diversify its travel services, specifically in terms of targeting upper-class clientele. In November, for example, Airbnb began offering truffle tastings, mushroom hunting and guided tours provided by local experts. The company is looking to expand into other parts of the travel business and is also working on a flight-booking tool.

While Airbnb is by no means unfamiliar with luxury listings (Lady Gaga stayed at a $20 million estate in Houston for the Super Bowl) and there are plenty of castles available to book year-round; the potential acquisition would allow the company to expand its reach even further into this high-end market.

- Namrata

New Animation Features from Airbnb Team

Animation features have long made technological interfaces  more usable, engaging, and interactive. However, they’ve historically been notoriously difficult to integrate into existing platforms.

“Because of this, most apps weren’t using animation—despite it being a powerful tool for communicating ideas and creating compelling user experiences,” the Airbnb team wrote in a recent blog post. “One year ago, we set out to change that.”

“Lottie” is Airbnb’s answer to making animation significantly easier. When the hospitality industry mammoth isn’t changing the nature of travel as we know it, Airbnb engineers have been staying busy with this side project, intended to assist developers create animations. Lottie, an open-source library for iOS, Android, and React Native, renders After Effects animations in real time.

“In the past, building complex animations for Android, iOs, and React apps was a difficult and lengthy process,” the Airbnb team elaborated. They explain that, prior to Lottie, engineers had to either add bulky image files for each screen size, or write a thousand lines of complicated, hard-to-maintain code.

And with the introduction of Lottie, they believe they have succeeded. This tool allows engineers to build richer animations without the overhead of re-writing them. Rather, animations can be made once and used on all platforms.  Lottie will support many After Effects features that allow for more than simple icon animations, including basic line art, character-based animations, and dynamic logo animations with multiple angles and cuts.

Airbnb has already started shipping its Lottie animations on several screens, and plans to greatly expand its usage of animations in a fun, yet useful way moving forward. But they’re far from done. The company emphasizes that they have many ideas for the future, including mapping views to Lottie animations, controlling view transitions with Lottie, and much more.

“The hardest part is picking which features to tackle next,” the post adds.

What's next, indeed?

- Namrata

MetroButler Stands with Airbnb and Against the Refugee Ban

This weekend, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky made international headlines when he said that the company would offer free housing to refugees and anyone else impacted by the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Chesky posted on Facebook. “Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone else who needs it in the event they are denied the ability to board a US-bound flight and are not in your city/country of residence.”

In a company-wide email, he elaborated, “This is a policy that I profoundly disagree with, and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb.” According to Chesky, the order goes against Airbnb’s core mission; the company’s purpose is to support the international exchange of people and the sharing of property, and the new executive order goes against Airbnb's core concept of “anyone to belong anywhere.” 

In conjunction with the offer for free housing, Chesky added that the company is reaching out to employees affected by the ban, as well as those who work in the U.S. on visas or green cards, to reassure them that they had the “unwavering support of everyone at this company.”

Chesky’s announcement aligns with Airbnb’s preexisting company values. The platform has actively participated in refugee relief efforts for two years, since it first offered free housing to relief workers in Greece, Serbia, and Macedonia in 2015 in addition to incorporating a donation tool into its website so that Airbnb community members could contribute to the refugee crisis.

While it is not yet clear how Chesky’s offer will translate to logistically feasible housing options, an Airbnb spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company will leverage its existing disaster response program, which asks hosts to offer housing to people displaced by natural disasters and to aid workers. Airbnb has promised to share more details about its plan in the near future.

By condemning the new administration’s actions, Chesky has joined the ranks of numerous tech executives openly denouncing the refugee ban. However, Airbnb’s decision takes the verbal support of refugess a step further, by providing a tactical solution to combat the ban, as well.

At MetroButler, we fully support and applaud the actions of Airbnb and Brian Chesky’s leadership. MetroButler stands with them and MetroButler stands with all oppressed, disenfranchised, and underrepresented portions of the population that bring diversity and exceptionalism to the United States of America. 

- Namrata

New Administration...New Regulations?

As a new administration settles into the White House, the executive stances on many issues have been relatively open to interpretation, to date. One area where this holds true is the administration's views on the future of the sharing economy. This is an especially interesting case given the President's past business experience in the hospitality industry. 

In the past, politicians’ stances on issues like regulation, trade, and taxes have severely impacted the sharing economy. For example, cities in New York, California, and Washington have delineated rigid rules on Airbnb’s operations, whereas states like Louisiana are more lenient.

Although the President has not yet publicly shared his views on the sharing economy, a CNET article examined his general policies to find clues about what his plans might be.

"There is no doubt he understands the sharing economy, and as a hotel/resort operator, he certainly gets the Airbnb, Uber and Lyft models", said Kathleen Smith, principal at RenaissanceCapital, which helps institutions invest in newly public companies. 

Nick Papas, Airbnb spokesman, believes that the administration's pick for labor secretary, Andrew Pudzer, would appreciate Airbnb’s platform. Pudzer is known for being supportive of entrepreneurship and deregulation. "Both Democrats and Republicans spent much of 2016 talking about how to help the middle class. Airbnb helps middle-class families by allowing them to use their house -- typically their greatest expense -- to generate supplemental income", Nick Papas said.

Another potential area of contention is Airbnb’s efforts to expand globally. A new approach to foreign policy coupled with a changing view of U.S. relations with the countries in which Airbnb operates, could affect the company’s business. For example, Airbnb is currently working to enter the Chinese hospitality market; however, if U.S.-Chinese trade relations are altered, this could have an effect on Airbnb's international growth plans in that country. 

In the coming months, support for entrepreneurial efforts, a desire to provide innovative revenue generating opportunities for middle-class Americans, and the U.S.'s evolving stance on international business will be the ultimate drivers in the future success of the sharing economy. 

—Namrata

What It Takes to be a Superhost

Airbnb describes Superhosts as experienced hosts who “provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests.” Research suggests that only 7% of hosts attain Superhost status, as to do so requires consistent five-star reviews and vast hosting experience. However, the label pays off: these guests garner more visibility in search results, invitations from the company to exclusive events, and a “Superhost” medal next to their Airbnb profile pictures.

Clearly, becoming an Airbnb Superhost is the gold standard for anyone interested in hosting guests through the platform. But, of course, getting there isn’t easy. Luckily for us, Brian X. Chen recently detailed his experience as a Superhost in an article in The New York Times, and shared lots of useful tidbits on how to achieve this coveted status. Here they are:

Hospitality, Not Real Estate:

According to Chen, the single most important element to remember on your route to becoming a Superhost is that guests are choosing your listing over a hotel. Therefore, you should be as friendly, hospitable, and communicative as a hotel. Provide living staples, such as towels, toothpaste, cooking equipment, etc., and be extremely responsive to guests.

Set Expectations:

Be completely honest about your listing; otherwise, your dishonesty will backfire when it comes time for a guest to leave a review. Be straightforward about any imperfections in the offering.

Solve Problems Quickly:

Don’t hesitate to address complaints. Send a plumber if a dishwasher breaks, or have a backup remote ready in case the first is misplaced. To take this step to the next level, Chen suggests hiring someone trustworthy in the neighborhood who can act as a property manager. (Editor's Note: We suggest hiring MetroButler instead!). 

Make Cleanliness a Priority:

Due to varying standards of cleanliness across the world, Chen recommends hiring professional cleaners to ensure positive feedback from guests.

Set Prices Based on Demand:

The goal of any host is to make a profit, and to do so, hosts should recognize that demand may be higher at certain times of the year. Be sure to set prices higher during peak rental seasons, and reduce prices during slow seasons.

Get the Guests You Want:

Despite Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy that encourages hosts to welcome guests regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and age, Chen urges hosts to reserve the right to decide what types of groups they would like host. If your city forbids loud parties past 10 p.m., understand the feasibility of hosting large groups of college students hoping to party.

Document Everything:

Finally, Chen emphasizes the importance of documenting everything of value in your house—countertops, the refrigerator, the stove, the dining table, the television set. If anything is damaged, Airbnb will ask for before-and- after photos to prove that guests caused the damage.

With these tips, you're well on your way to hosting the perfect home. That said, you can always call in the professionals! You know we'd be happy to help. 

—Namrata

Airbnb Invests in Restaurant App, Resy

2017 has barely begun, but the hospitality industry is already making strides to put its mark on the year! On January 9th, the giant of the sharing economy, Airbnb, announced that it would be investing in Resy, an app designed to facilitate restaurant reservations.

Rapidly-growing Airbnb is one of the most highly-funded startups in the world. The company has raised over $3 billion in funding, and is currently valued by investors at $30 billion. Now, Airbnb is looking to place some investments in other companies as well.

“Helping people find and book incredible local restaurants is a key part of us moving beyond just accommodation to focus on the whole trip,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement.

Resy, a feature-based app that differentiates itself by not charging diners a booking fee, aims to curate restaurants lists for each customer, so that each customer sees only restaurant choices that may appeal to them. This aligns with Airbnb’s ambition to create a more immersive travel experience. Within the next few months, Airbnb will integrate Resy into its own app, allowing for reservations to be made through the Airbnb app, and the startups have already partnered together on Trips.

Ultimately, Airbnb hopes to harness Resy’s table-booking services to expand beyond just home-sharing, constituting part of its plan to become the world’s first one-stop shop for travelers. At MetroButler, we can’t wait to see how this investment shapes the future of Airbnb—and, to a greater extent, the hospitality industry at large.

--Namrata

New Tech for the New Year

With just a few days left in 2016, we in the hospitality industry are all asking the same question: after such a successful year, what can we look forward to in 2017? This was clearly on Brian Chesky’s mind too; the Airbnb co-founder and CEO asked the Airbnb community via social media what the company’s users would like to see in 2017. Interestingly, many users responded with Bitcoin payment integration.

Bitcoin, an innovative open-source payment system with a public design, allows for faster monetary transactions, worldwide payments, lower processing fees, and other uses that have elevated it over other payment systems in the public eye. Notably, Airbnb competitor and renowned travel company, Expedia, has experienced considerable success in their integration of the Bitcoin payment system. Expedia Vice President of Global Product, Michael Gulmann, explained that Bitcoin functionality is initially only available for hotel bookings, but that the company would “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely” expand into full-scale Bitcoin acceptance with sufficient customer support.

Chesky reacted to Airbnb users’ desire for Bitcoin integration with astonishment. “Wow didn’t realize this,” he wrote in response to a tweet explaining Expedia’s new Bitcoin payment system implementation. Ultimately, he expressed pleasant surprise by the number of users willing to give more business to the Airbnb platform if the company begins to accept Bitcoin payments.

We at MetroButler are excited by this potential new development in the sharing economy. Bitcoin can minimize the transaction fees that Airbnb users are forced to face through their credit card or PayPal transactions. As this change could represent a mutually beneficial relationship between two growing companies, we are eagerly looking forward to what 2017 could hold for the future of the hospitality industry.

- Namrata

Another Month, Another Tourism Partnership!

Today, MetroButler is happy to announce a partnership with on-demand mobile concierge startup, Headout. Headout’s Android, iOS and desktop-based platform makes vacationing more exciting by connecting travelers with local activities at discounted prices. With near-perfect ratings on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, this app makes discovering and booking fun activities extremely easy and effortless.

As part of this partnership, every visitor staying at a MetroButler property will receive a package of exclusive and discounted activities, courtesy of Headout. Activities offered by Headout include tickets to hit Broadway shows, access to New York’s best observatory decks, one-of-a-kind helicopter tours, and dozens of museums. Travelers of all ages and interests will find something on Headout to make their vacation even more special.

MetroButler is always looking for ways to enhance the Guest experience, as we welcome visitors from all corners of the world into our properties. One way we know we can achieve this is by serving as useful guides and connecting Guests to the greatest activities in our home city. We can think of no better way to exemplify this, than through our partnership with Headout.

- Jon

MetroButler Proud to Announce Partnership with New York Cruise Lines

Today, MetroButler is happy to announce a partnership with one of New York's premier tourism companies: New York Cruise Lines. New York Cruise Lines operates the iconic Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, as well as The Beast Speedboat, giving unmatched tours of New York City, via boat ride around the island. NYCL also owns and operates North River Lobster Company and Fish Bar, both on the Hudson River, where visitors from around the world can take in 360-degree views of Manhattan while also enjoying quality seafood. 

For every visitor staying in a MetroButler property, NYCL will be providing information about Fish Bar, their one-of-a-kind restaurant, located conveniently on Pier 81 in Manhattan's Midtown area. The restaurant sits aboard a 160 ft. yacht and sails to the Statue of Liberty for free; just walk on board and order off the menu! Fishbar will be offering a free glass of bubbly (redeemable via coupon left inside all MetroButler homes) to visitors who venture over to the Hudson River in pursuit of this terrific offer. 

MetroButler is always looking for ways to enhance the Guest experience, as we welcome visitors from all corners of the world into our properties. One way we know we can achieve this is by becoming useful guides to our home city and showing hospitality and fantastic recommendations to those visiting us. We can think of no better way to exemplify this, than through our partnership with New York Cruise Lines. We know our Guests will enjoy the unique experience of taking a boat tour around Manhattan, eating fine New York City cuisine, and taking in all this beautiful city has to offer. 

Airbnb Not the Big Threat the Hotel Lobby Says it is

Since its founding in 2008, one of the primary critiques against Airbnb has been that the company could severely damage existing hospitality and real estate industries. However, according to an Oct. 12, 2016 Business Insider article, most of these concerns appear to have no factual basis.

Interestingly, prominent data research firm STR analyzed Airbnb data alongside hotel data in thirteen US and international markets—and found that Airbnb isn’t actually replacing hotels. Although Airbnb has more than double the number of listings worldwide than the leading hotel chains (such as Marriott and Hilton), the company targets entirely different demographics. “Comparing Airbnb and hotels in the first place is apples to oranges,” STR senior research analyst Jessica Haywood noted in the article.

According to Haywood, very different types of travelers from those who typically gravitate towards hotels, choose Airbnb. These travelers are often looking for an entirely different experience; they want to be immersed within and interact alongside the culture in a more intimate way than hotels can offer. Many Airbnb users can also not afford to stay in a hotel so they only travel if they can secure cheap accommodations. These are people who likely would not be traveling at all, were it not for the possibility of staying in an Airbnb.

Notably, in terms of occupancy, hotels are far ahead of Airbnb in every major market, and especially so in large international cities like Mexico City and London. Haywood concludes that, within the US, Airbnb is providing accommodations for those who cannot stay in hotels; therefore, while Airbnb may be edging in on the hotel’s guests, it is not claiming a large enough portion of them to disrupt traditional lodgings.

Ultimately, we at MetroButler believe that while Airbnb may not be putting hotels out of business anytime soon, this data represents a new frontier in hospitality and travel. Traditional accommodations do not reflect all travel needs and the introduction of new companies only increases the total amount of travel, rather than creates competition among industry players. Like Airbnb, we aim to curate a unique, immersive experience for our guests, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us and all travelers within the hospitality industry.

- Namrata

Unique Airbnb's are all about the experience!

There is an Airbnb listing, posted by Jonathan Powley, that seems almost too good to be true: located in New York, with a great view of the city, at only $39.00 a night. How, you might ask? The answer is simple—the rental is not a home or apartment, but rather a decommissioned yellow cab. This 2002 Honda Odyssey minivan has been completely revamped into an overnight shelter, with its backseats replaced by black and yellow sheets complete with a bed stowed in the back. 

According to The New York Times, this taxi has been in very high demand; it was booked for almost every night that Powley made it available, and attracted visitors from locales ranging from Singapore to Brooklyn. Powley even said that people spend anniversaries in the taxi, as it’s “very romantic.”

In New York City Powley’s car is both affordable and convenient. Even more importantly, it’s unique. “It’s fun to be able to say you slept in a cab,” Tabitha Akins, a former guest of Powley’s taxi, noted.

Powley, a stand-up comedian, acknowledged that this factor was crucial to the success of his model, but elaborated that he utilizes his degree in hotel and restaurant management to create a comfortable atmosphere within the taxi for his guess. “You can always make people’s experiences better. It’s not just like, ‘Hey, here’s a van, sleep in it,’” he said. Here at MetroButler, we agree that enhancing customer experience is crucial to success, which is why we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that our guests feel like locals.

Unfortunately, Powley’s taxi didn’t garner rave reviews from everyone, as some guests have complained about the smell, the lack of bathrooms, and the cramped space available. However, Powley is confident in his model, and knows that for the right people, his rental offering will prove to be compelling.

Could taxi rentals represent the new frontier in hospitality? We at MetroButler aren’t sure, but eagerly anticipate future development in this area. The guest’s experience is our priority; just like Powley uses his taxi to give customers an authentic taste of New York, we make sure that our guests have a unique, special experience whenever they stay in one of our properties.

If you’re wondering where the best place is to grab a coffee or a quick bite, you can check out a custom property guide we have to give our guests information on not only the apartment they are staying in, but also the area that it’s located in. For an added cherry on top, thanks to our partnership with Quaker Oats, you even get free oatmeal samples when you stay in a MetroButler property! Talk about unique!

-Namrata

A message from MetroButler’s CEO-- Everything you NEED to know about the Airbnb Regulation in NYC

We know that many New Yorkers are curious about NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's signing of Assembly Bill A8704C, regarding New York City's home sharing laws, and how it affects Airbnb rentals. In this blog post, we will help to explain the likely ramifications and outcomes from this decision, who it affects, and additional context, that I hope you will find informative.  

What is the law that Governor Cuomo signed?

A8704C is an amendment to the Multiple Dwelling Law ("MDL"). Under the MDL, apartments in a building with a certificate of occupancy specifying that the building is a Class A multiple dwelling location, are to be used for residence purposes only and may not be rented out for periods of fewer than thirty days. Violation of the MDL can subject a host to potential fines from the city.

Before October 21st, the city lacked both the resources and mechanisms to effectively enforce the law because the onus was placed on the city to demonstrate actual violation of the MDL. This made the complaint-driven process both burdensome and costly for the city and often yielded few or no results. 

A8704C eases the city's burden by applying penalties not only to the renting of an apartment in a Class A Multiple Dwelling, but also to the advertisement of any such unit. Under the MDL, as amended, penalties can now be as high as $7,500 per violation and the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement ("MOSE") will no longer need to prove that an actual rental has taken place for a period of less than thirty days. The MOSE will simply need to show that a unit was advertised in a manner inconsistent with the MDL. 

What happens if a person violates this new law?

Violations of the MDL, as amended, are now punishable by a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $7,500 for the third and subsequent violations. If the city does issue a violation, the accused is entitled to a hearing to contest that violation. 

These penalties are significant but only time will tell if they are levied across the board to all units in the city. Legislative proponents of A8704C have consistently stated that their chief concern has been a depletion of housing stock and upward pressure on housing prices. This is because by using Airbnb, commercial operators could easily convert long-term residential units into more lucrative short-term rentals. In the eyes of Albany, doing so takes residential units off the market and harms low and middle income New Yorkers (a process legislators have referred to as "rental arbitrage").

All in all, the majority of Airbnb hosts in New York earn low, moderate, or middle incomes, many of who use Airbnb income to afford and stay in their homes. It is unclear at this moment of the enforcement of A8704C will be focused on all properties or only towards commercial operators.

One significant bright spot, is that the bill's author, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, is on record as saying that the bill is looking to target commercial law breakers, not average New Yorkers looking to rent out their home while they travel. "The Office of Special Enforcement understands what their goal is," Rosenthal says. "They weren't set up to pick off individual tenants." Rosenthal adds "What we're after are the commercial operators...When you jay-walk, nobody is going after you. It's the exact same thing."

Taken at face value, Rosenthal's words should be very reassuring to anybody who still relies on the rental of their home when they travel for work or leisure.       

What is Airbnb doing to fight this?

Immediately after the signing of the bill, Airbnb filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan's Southern District, naming state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the City of New York as defendants. The suit alleges that the new law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Federal Communications Decency Act, which can protect websites from legal accountability for third-party content posted thereon. 

Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels released the following statement following the signing of the law: "In typical fashion, Albany back-room dealing rewarded a special interest - the price-gouging hotel industry - and ignored the voices of tens of thousands of New Yorkers...A majority of New Yorkers have embraced home sharing, and we will continue to fight for a smart policy solution that works for the people, not the powerful." 

Airbnb held a rally on Wednesday October 26th outside Governor Cuomo’s office in midtown Manhattan.  The rally brought together members of the NYC Airbnb community, including MetroButler, to show unity and support for Airbnb in New York.

What is MetroButler's opinion on this development?

Looking at these factors in aggregate, enforcement against middle class New Yorkers runs directly contrary to the expressed intent of the legislators who drafted this bill. Not only does the bill run against the legislators' stated intent, but given Airbnb's history of successfully using grassroots tactics to mobilize its user base in other cities, this will likely be a drawn out political and legal battle. 

At MetroButler, we are of the strong opinion that the city should not target individual hosts, and that the city should indeed focus its efforts on the large scale commercial operators that Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Andrew J. Lanza, sponsors of the bill, have consistently referred to as "bad actors".

What does it all mean?

The short answer is, it's too early to tell. While this is certainly a hurdle for Airbnb, home-sharing hosts, and New York City, there are several variables at play and ways this story might unfold in the coming months. Airbnb has already sought emergency injunctive relief that could place a hold on the law, pending the outcome of Airbnb's current lawsuit. 

We’ll keep updating our blog as any developments occur in the Airbnb vs. NYC regulation balance. For additional reading on this topic, we encourage you to check out Skift's amazing breakdown of the complete history regarding Airbnb's legal jousting in New York City.


Matthew Lerner
CEO @ MetroButler 

Los Angeles takes the road less traveled with Airbnb!

LA TIMES- Airbnb strikes deal with L.A. to collect millions in lodging taxes- Under a newly announced deal with Los Angeles city officials, Airbnb will soon start collecting lodging taxes from rental hosts, providing millions of dollars in revenue to the city annually.

This is a BIG deal when it comes to Airbnb legalization in California.  Currently, there is a lot of debate and talk about how cities such as L.A and San Francisco are going to deal with laws governing Airbnb.  San Francisco, where Airbnb calls home, is currently in talks that could fine the sharing economy giant for not complying to the current short-term rental laws.

With this new deal Los Angeles is moving forward with a tax deal even though the current law prohibits rentals for less than 30-days.  The city decided to proceed with the deal, even though the law does NOT yet legalize short-term rentals for less than 30 days at a time, so they can start receiving the more than $5 Million in tax revenue projected for the year.  This money was planned for in the cities budget and is going to programs for the homeless.  Airbnb predicts the tax revenue from the deal could be as high as $20 Million in the upcoming year.

This deal shows the direction law makers and local governments are moving towards in regards to the sharing economy.  At MetroButler we are hoping NYC lawmakers take notice and can start being sensible when it comes to rules and regulations for the sharing economy.

-ASH

 

 

 

How Airbnb can help people live in an expensive city!

Fortune- Here's How Much New York City Airbnb Hosts Earn in a Year- Airbnb describes the income as an "economic life preserver for many hosts who are struggling to live in an increasingly expensive city."

As the conversation continues to rage regarding Airbnb legality in NYC, Airbnb recently released data regarding the NYC marketplace.  Airbnb is hoping that the data from the study will provide proof that Airbnb is not affecting the amount of properties that could be on the longterm housing market, but in reality is helping New Yorkers to be able to afford to live in possibly the most expensive city in the world.

The data from the study shows that New York City has had over 40 THOUSAND active listings on Airbnb over the past year with the median income hosts are making at $5,474.  This number goes as high as $8,286 in Midtown, most profitable neighborhood to rent based on the study.

As a service for NYC Airbnb hosts, we at MetroButler see the positive impact Airbnb has on New Yorkers.  As Airbnb stated when releasing their study, the supplemental income that Airbnb provides to New Yorkers while they rent their home on Airbnb is VITAL to their ability to pay rent and live in the greatest city in the world.

Our clients are typical New Yorkers who work hard everyday to make ends meet.  Some of them travel regularly for work and count on the ability to use their home as a source of income while they are gone, to pay their rent. Others haven't been on a vacation in years and can only afford to do so by using the money they make Airbnbing their home while they are gone to pay for the trip.

The services we provide at MetroButler are helping New Yorkers live in a great city and that is all it takes to get us out of bed in the morning and into the office!

-ASH

MetroButler Makes List of Top NYC Startups!

Anytime you get mentioned as a top NYC startup alongside the likes of companies such as Blue Apron and Via, you know you're doing something right! We are extremely proud to be included on this list and also thankful to Coworkrs for giving us a place to work and build our growing business. Thanks to The Farm for recognizing us and all the hard work we do!

Check out the full list here to see the article and all the other amazing startups in NYC.

METROBUTLER BREAKING NEWS!!

Today is an exciting day at the MetroButler offices! We are happy to announce that we have entered into a service agreement with Proprly, a fellow short-term rental service provider.  As of today, Thursday June 16, MetroButler is taking over the day-to-day cleaning and key delivery services for Proprly's Airbnb hosts.

Proprly has shut down its cleaning and key delivery services for its clients, effective yesterday, Wednesday June 15th 2016, and has chosen MetroButler to continue servicing its hosts moving forward.

"Today's announcement is an important step forward for MetroButler's long-term vision for growth, increasing MetroButler's footprint in the New York City Airbnb host management market," said MetroButler CEO and Co-Founder Matt Lerner.  "We are thrilled to welcome Proprly hosts into the MetroButler family, and look forward to bringing our know-how and excellent services to meet their needs.  We are confident this agreement will add valuable resources to our arsenal, making us even more efficient and effective for our existing clients."

The entire Press Release can be found HERE!

-ASH

Blog Post can also be found on Medium- https://medium.com/@MetroButler

Airbnb BOOMS during local events!

EuroNews- Airbnb prepares to host 250,000 visitors during France's Euro 2016 soccer tournament-

"With a week to go before the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament kicks off in France, the international accommodation rental website, Airbnb, has announced its expecting over 250,000 tourists in Paris and other host cities."

Starting on June 10th and running for a month until July 10th, Euro 2016 will be taking place in several cities across France. Being one of the top soccer tournaments in the world, UEFA's Euro Championship draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to its host countries every four years. This influx of people now benefit from having the option to stay in Airbnb's as well as hotels.

Airbnb's estimates that over 250,000 people are already booked to stay in one of the many cities in France that will be hosting tournament games, including over 110,000 of those tourists planning on staying in Paris through the Airbnb platform.

These numbers are staggering and prove how important events are to local communities and the lodging industry at large. Whether it is a HUGE international soccer tournament, a music festival, or a community parade, people love to travel for events and need a place to stay. Airbnb has allowed for a new, and a lot of times cheaper option, when attending these events while directly infusing the local economy with income.

With the increased demand for housing because of these events, more and more locals are seeing the benefit in listing their homes on Airbnb and making supplemental income.

If you're one of these people that want to profit from a local event, distinguishing yourselves and your property from others is the key to boosting revenue. MetroButler is a great resource to help new and returning Airbnb hosts maximize their profits while taking all the stress out of the process. 

-ASH