Airbnb challenged to provide market data

Online room lettings agency Airbnb is now a third of the size of the formal hotel sector in London, but with concerns growing about its impact on the market the company should provide more transparent information, research by Moore Stephens suggests

The firm says its analysis indicates there are approximately 64,000 Airbnb listed properties in London compared to 197,970 hotel rooms. Airbnb is not only taking market share from hotels in the UK’s biggest cities, but also from smaller establishments in other tourist hotspots, with Airbnb listings now represent 30% of the size of formal hotel and bed and breakfast rooms in Brighton and 20% of those in Bristol.

The hotel industry has flagged up concerns that Airbnb is taking advantage of an uneven playing field to gain market share from the more formal hotel and bed & breakfast sector, pointing out that residential property owners do not pay business rates or VAT.

Moore Stephen highlights moves by other major cities worldwide to clamp down on online lettings. For example, in San Francisco, Airbnb hosts must now be full-time residents and can only rent their property for 90 days, while Barcelona requires hosts to pay an annual fee for a tourist licence, and in Berlin they need to obtain a general permit from their borough and could face a maximum penalty of up to €500,000 for breaking any regulation.

Moore Stephens says that its research on Airbnb is an approximation based on available sources and that the debate over Airbnb and its impact would be further enhanced if Airbnb presented its data in a more transparent way.

Peter Duffy, Director at Moore Stephens, said: ‘Airbnb is increasingly taking market share from hotels. Hotel groups say this because Airbnb can bypass industry regulations allowing it to undercut the formal industry.

‘Everyone would welcome Airbnb being more transparent. More statistics are needed so that the impact of Airbnb, positive or otherwise, can be properly debated.

‘Airbnb and other similar platforms can offer significant benefits to individuals, for those renting their property out and holidaymakers.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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