Skift Take

Airbnb plans to discontinue its email alias feature, citing safety reasons and aiming to prevent direct bookings outside of its platform.

Airbnb recently reminded hosts that it plans to shutter its email alias feature September 30. The feature enables hosts and guests to email and share documents, such as PDFs of property guides, passports and other IDs from their regular emails accounts without having to log into Airbnb.

Airbnb says there are safety reasons for the move, but it clearly also seeks to reduce the risk of the next booking taking place direct rather than on Airbnb’s platform. That’s a challenge because many hosts readily share their WhatsApp contact information or phone numbers with guests, for example.

Airbnb, which initially announced in March that the masked emails would become history in September, said it’s safest to communicate with guests on the Airbnb platform, and that “you can still securely send documents by sharing a link with your guests in the Airbnb inbox.”

Off-platform communications, however convenient, also leave guests and hosts vulnerable to Airbnb customer service issues. The company would likely not go to bat for either party when off-platform communications are in the mix.

The looming demise of Airbnb’s email alias feature has spurred property manager Red Awning to develop a communications hub that enables hosts to communicate with guests through their email vendor or communications method of choice as these communications would be repurposed via an API into the Airbnb inbox. Hosts would be able to do this without logging into Airbnb, according to Red Awning.

The property manager expects other platforms to follow Airbnb’s lead so Red Awning’s new communications hub would enable hosts to likewise send communications into the Booking.com inbox, the inboxes of other platforms, and Red Awning’s mobile app, as well.

Workplace Tensions at Village Realty and RealJoy

An anonymous whistleblower letter purported to be from employees at property manager Village Realty and affiliated brand RealJoy, one of the largest management companies in the U.S. with around 3,700 properties combined, alleged nepotism and discrimination against women employees, and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The letter, sent to owner LightBay Partners, vacation rental professionals and journalists, alleged that Chief Operating Officer Jakob Dwyer in recent months has fired a number of female employees, and replaced them exclusively with “heterosexual white males” whom he previously knew or had personal relationships with.

Village Reality, headquartered in Nags Head, North Carolina, and RealJoy, based in Destin, Florida, have responded to the allegations. Board Chairperson Roger Zino said they have launched an investigation into the issue with the help of outside counsel, and in the interest of “legal compliance and workplace diversity.” He encouraged the whistleblowers to participate in the investigation, adding “If there are any issues to address, we will certainly address them” when the investigation concludes.

On the Legislative Front

The Florida Professional Vacation Rental Coalition lauded the passage of Florida Senate Bill 170, which Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law. The new law provides remedies to local businesses, including vacation rental companies, when local ordinances conflict with federal or state laws.

For example, Florida already had a state law that barred local ordinances or regulations from barring vacation rentals or limiting the frequencies of their stays. But local governments sought to get around the law by imposing what some might call exorbitantly high fines, circuitous registration procedures, or stiff parking regulations to curtail vacation rentals. Senate Bill 170 gives local businesses, after meeting a certain threshold, to challenge the local laws, and stay their implementation while the court is deciding on their legality.

Sonder Keeps Piling On Properties

Sonder added five properties of various types in Europe, bringing its total roster to 54 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Quintinie, Sonder’s fourth in Paris, opened in June not too far from Tour Montparnasse and Le Musée de la Poste.

Yelo Promenade, Sonder’s second property in Nice, likewise opened in June and is said to feature private balconies and sea views.

The company went with a serviced apartment property for short-term stays called Atelier in Milan, its second in the city.

Antinoo in Rome’s historic center features rooms and serviced apartments that can handle up to eight guests for short-term stays, and Los Arcos in Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter offers both hotel rooms and extended stay serviced apartments. The latter property is Sonder’s seventh in Barcelona.

Today’s Hotel Quiz

For today’s lodging quiz: Of Choice Hotels‘ 22 brands, how many are extended stay, and what are the names of these brands? OK, time’s up. They are Mainstay Suites (116 properties open, 90 in the pipeline); Suburban Studios (75 operating, 35 in the works); Everhome Suites by Choice Hotels (one up and running in Southern California, 99 in the pipeline in the U.S., and Woodspring Suites (212 open, 223 on the way). You can read about the Skift Take and the Choice Hotels Take on each of the 22 brands in the following story.

Choice Hotels’ Brands, Explained

Skift Short-Term Rental Reporter Srividya Kalyanaraman writes the Skift Short-Term Rental Report. Send news tips to [email protected].

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