Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Short-Term Rentals

France Proposes Value Added Taxes on Airbnb Rentals

6 months ago

The French Senate has greenlit measures to apply value-added tax (VAT) to Airbnb and similar platforms, aiming to address perceived competition imbalances with the hotel sector. 

Under the existing system VAT is levied on furnished tourist accommodations based on specific services like breakfast, regular cleaning, and the provision of household linen. The proposed amendment contends that this is “distortion of competition” between holiday rental companies and hotels, which are already VAT-subject. 

Currently, Airbnb collects tourist tax predetermined by regions (usually 10%) and additional taxes depending on the departments. For instance, the Île-de-France region recently introduced an additional “Grand Paris” tax of 15%. 

Finance minister Bruno Le Mair had suggested increasing taxes on Airbnb rentals, in June this year, to align them with regular, non-tourist rentals. Currently, tourist rentals, including those through Airbnb, enjoy a special tax rebate in France. Le Maire emphasized the need for fairness in taxation and expressed concerns about excessive benefits and favorable tax treatment. 

Despite Senate approval, the government retains the right to reject the measure. The Senate previously endorsed a measure to regulate furnished tourist accommodations by reducing tax deductions in areas with rental pressure.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s New Chief Legal Officer Is A Former Biden Aide

6 months ago

Airbnb announced today that it has appointed former White House chief of staff and a prominent figure in Democratic circles Ron Klain as its chief legal officer. A close Biden aide, Klain will begin his role at the company starting January 1.

Last year, Airbnb appointed Jay Carney as the global head of policy and communications. Carney handled public relations for Amazon for seven years after serving as the White House press secretary for the Obama administration. 

Klain, known for his strategic thinking, operational expertise, and close ties to Washington, will report directly to Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky. 

“Ron is both a big-picture strategic thinker and a highly skilled operator, and I’m thrilled he’ll be a close advisor,” said Chesky in a statement. “People have described Ron as one of the smartest people they’ve ever met, but more than his intelligence, he’s known for his excellent judgment and his big heart. Ron is the perfect addition to our team.”

Klain served as White House Chief of Staff from January 2021 to February 2023.

Most previously, Klain was a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers. Klain told Axios that he heard about the opening at Airbnb, which was a client of the law firm. 

Klain is not new to representing tech businesses in litigation. He has also served as the chief legal officer at venture capital firm Revolution. 

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s AI Acquisition Paid Partially in Stock Valued Above $100 Million

6 months ago

Airbnb made public filings on Tuesday showing that its acquisition of AI company GamePlanner.AI was paid partially with stock valued at about $104.5 million. 

The filings said that the company is offering 877,062 shares and the two largest recipients were listed as Adam Cheyer (337,652 shares) and Siamak Hodjat (245,565). 

Cheyer and Hodjat are the co-founders of GamePlanner.AI, which Airbnb said on Tuesday that it had acquired for an undisclosed price. 

Other stock recipients included several venture capital funds: B Capital, Golden Circle Ventures, a fund owned by Hong Kong businesswoman Solina Chau Hoi Shue, and a trust related to venture capitalist Gary Morgenthaler, among others.

One filing referenced $119.15 as the last reported stock stock price on November 13, which would make the total value of the shares $104.5 million.

Citing sources familiar with the deal, CNBC reported that the total value of the GamePlanner.ai acquisition was nearly $200 million. Airbnb stock is up 3% over the last day and up 36% year to date.

Short-Term Rentals

Kasa Living and Samara Both Raise Venture Funding

7 months ago

As we approach the end of the year, venture capitalists are spilling some of that dry powder on real estate-tech firms.

San Franciso startups Kasa Living and Samara both raised significant amount in venture funding this week.

Kasa Living, which manages rentals for owners of multifamily and boutique hospitality properties, has raised $70 million in a Series C funding round. The round was led by Citi Ventures and FirstMark Capital. New York Life Ventures, Fireside Investments, and existing investors RET Ventures, Zigg Capital, and Ribbit Capital also participated in the round.

Founded in 2016, Kasa Living collaborates with a wide range of real estate owners, including Greystar, AMLI Residential, and Starwood Capital, as well as local hospitality investors and developers in major cities such as San Francisco, New York, Miami, and Nashville. 

Its core business involves turning investor-owned multifamily apartments, boutique hotels, and single-family homes into professionally managed accommodations. In October this year, Kasa brought on a hotel and converted to an all-studio aparthotel in Los Angeles under its management.

Kasa Living plans to allocate the newly acquired funds towards expanding its operations and broadening its business reach. The company also announced that industry veteran Jonathan Langer joined its board. Langer also sits on the board of KKR Real Estate Finance Trust, Westin Hotels & Resorts, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Currently, Kasa Living operates in multiple cities, including Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. 

Samara’s Series A 

Samara, the brainchild of Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, raised $41 million in a Series A round, led by Thrive Capital and participation from investors including 8VC, General Catalyst, New Legacy, SV Angel. Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk and Dell technologies CEO Michael Dell also participated in this round.

Samara, initially conceived as a blue-sky product research and development team within Airbnb in 2016, transitioned into an independent company last spring with funding from Gebbia and Mike McNamara, a former CEO of international product development firm Flex.

Based in San Francisco, Samara’s focus is Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs. These include backyard cottages, casitas, and in-law units designed to coexist with homeowners’ primary residences. The company wants to mass-produce ADUs, allowing homeowners to expand their property. CEO Joe Gebbia drew a parallel to buying a Tesla online in his interview to Fortune —customize your options, tailor it to your preferences, and click “order.”

Its flagship product, “Backyard,” spans 420 to 690 square feet, priced between $269,000 and $369,000. With newfound funding, Samara will push its sales and marketing efforts.

Tags: airbnb

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb and a Tenant Blocked From Listing an Apartment in a Banned NYC Building

7 months ago

The implementation of New York City’s host registration law last month has enabled one landlord to win a temporary restraining order against both Airbnb and a host from listing a short-term rental in an Upper West Side apartment building that put itself on the Office of Special Enforcement’s banned building list.

An NYC home that was listed on Airbnb years ago. Source: Flickr.com/Pietro and Sylvia https://tinyurl.com/mur8ukak

The Rosenberg & Estis law firm, which represents property manager Canvas Property Group for the building owner, characterized the temporary restraining order it obtained last month as “a precedent-setting victory.”

The two sides are slated to face off over making the temporary restraining order permanent in a New York state court in late October. The plaintiff sued Airbnb and the host, who the law firm stated never lived in the 3-bedroom Columbus Avenue apartment, for damages.

The Real Deal first reported the existence of the lawsuit, adding that a second landlord filed suit, as well.

As of late August, more than 10,000 buildings had applied to the city to be put on a list of buildings where tenants would be barred from offering their apartments as short-term rentals, and major platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Vrbo would be prohibited from displaying them.

Although Airbnb and the city have been at loggerheads for years over New York’s regulations, which ban the bulk of properties that were formerly listed, Airbnb and the city are believed to be now working together on the implementation of the registration law. Airbnb counts on the city’s verification system to flag illegal listings, including those from hosts in buildings where they are barred.

Airbnb had no comment on the lawsuits on Saturday.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb Squatter Squabble in California Hits Home in NYC Short-Term Rental Crackdown

8 months ago

There have been plenty of headlines in the past few days about a lawsuit against an Airbnb guest in Brentwood, California, who has allegedly overstayed her reservation, which ended on March 19, 2022 —without paying rent for more than a year-and-a half.

A vacation rental that was listed on Vrbo. We show this for illustrative purpose, and not for any connection to the squatter issue. Source: Vrbo

The property owner filed a lawsuit in June, seeking to evict the squatter, who has supposedly performed a somewhat similar caper previously, according to published reports.

Squatter Issue Resonates in NYC

Regardless of the details of this particular case, the issue of squatters and laws in many localities that are designed to protect tenants from abusive landlords, hit home in New York City in light of the new host registration law that became effective September 5.

The New York City host registration law seeks to enforce short-term rental regulations that have existed in the Big Apple for years, but often went unheeded. Among them, owners of one- and two-family homes that are owner-occupied don’t need to register as hosts of their vacation rentals, but the minimum stay would need to be at least 30 days.

That’s exactly when squatter laws come into play. New York State law states that people who live in a property for 30 days become legal tenants, and after that time period it can become a protracted battle to evict guests — even if they are paying nothing for the stay.

This issue is a concern for New York City homeowners, many of whom live in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, who are seeking to rent out their properties for short- and long-term rentals to help pay mortgages and for extra income.

“Many of our RHOAR (Restore Homeowners Autonomy & Rights) members are concerned about the risk of bringing on a tenant that ultimately doesn’t pay their rent and uses NYC’s laws to delay eviction, which has been a financially ruinous experience for many of RHOAR’s members,” spokesperson Lisa Grossman told Skift a few days before the New York City host registration law became effective.

As of a few days ago, RHOAR has conducted meetings with 15 of 52 New York City council members, looking for an amendment “to allow owner-occupied one- or two-family homes the ability to do short-term rentals,” Grossman said.

In other words, these would be rentals for a night, a weekend, a week — anything fewer than 30 nights.

Dan Driscoll, co-founder and chief operating officer of luxury vacation rental business boutiq, based in Austin, acknowledged that squatters might be a problem in some urban markets, but doesn’t see it as a major problem for the vacation rental sector.

“I am not a lawyer and not qualified to give legal advice, but from my vantage point, I think the horror stories are out there, but I think these are wild outliers and fairly isolated to urban markets with unique tenant laws,” Driscoll said.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Hints at Long-Term Rentals

8 months ago

Is Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky hinting at long-term rentals when he said to expect what could be “the biggest update to Airbnb ever?” 

Chesky told The Financial Times, Airbnb will venture beyond its core travel business. Starting next year, the online rental platform will expand into longer-term housing rentals and enhance its experiences and services offerings like “dining pop-ups.” He added, “there’s an eventual opportunity for Airbnb to become a greater part of your daily life. Not just once or twice a year.”

The Airbnb CEO believes that there’s an untapped market for rentals lasting up to a year, citing the shift towards remote work and extended stays. While only 18% of gross nights booked in the second quarter of this year were for stays longer than 30 days, Chesky sees great potential in extended stays.

This strategic shift comes as Airbnb faces scrutiny from regulators globally over its impact on housing availability in major cities. New York recently introduced rules restricting short-term rentals, but Chesky doesn’t consider it a precedent, emphasizing potential win-win solutions. Airbnb’s future plans also include dining experiences, he told The Financial Times.

Online Travel

South Africa to Launch Short-Term Rental Register

9 months ago

South Africa’s ministry of tourism and Airbnb have announced a partnership to regulate the country’s short-term rental industry.

This agreement will include the introduction of a voluntary national registration system to help the South African government understand the rental business better. The country’s tourism minister Patrcia de Lille said, “Insufficient information is available about the unregulated Short Term Rental subsector, and this hampers informed policy decision making. Access to the Airbnb data can only assist in informing better decisions.”

The registry would also look to “protect hosts and clamp down on property speculators who damage communities,” added Velma Corcoran, Airbnb Regional Lead Middle East Africa.

Airbnb has long been calling for rules to distinguish between professional and non-professional activity and a framework for public-private cooperation to help promote inclusivity in the country’s sector, added Corcoran. Airbnb said it will further give South Africa’s tourism ministry access to its City Portal—a tool it says has been “rolled out to over 300 jurisdictions to date and helps governments develop and manage fair short-term rental policies and regulations.”

This call for regulation is in contrast to the crackdown underway in New York, in which Airbnb hosts must register and comply with STR rules specific to the city. In New York’s new registration requirements, hosts with shared rooms need to obtain registrations from the city to accommodate a maximum of two guests legally, and the hosts need to be present during the stay.

Corcoran added that international best practices regarding the short-term rentals sector will be a focal point for the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit, slated for 23rd to 24th October in Johannesburg.

Skift reached out to SA’s Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille to confirm when the registry would take effect, what information would be required, and how the data would be regulated and protected but has yet to receive a response. 

Online Travel

Airbnb and Other Brands Awash With Barbie Hype

11 months ago

The marketing team behind Barbie have made the doll a household name. The upcoming summer release of the official Warner Bros. movie ‘Barbie‘ on July 21, and the subsequent marketing push behind it, in part, illustrates how an 11.5-inch doll has managed brand success for over 60 years. 

Barbie Dreamhouse listing on Airbnb. Source: Airbnb

Airbnb has unveiled a listing, Welcome to Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse – Ken’s Way, which opens to the public for a free stay, on a first come first serve basis. Booking is from July 17, and is for two individual one-night stays, for up to two guests each, on July 21 and July 22, 2023 only. Airbnb said it will make a one-time donation to Save the Children, to honor girls’ empowerment, in the announcement of the listing that coincides with the movie’s release.

In Los Angeles there is a full activation called “World of Barbie”, bringing her DreamHouse and DreamCamper to life for an immersive experience. It also features an adults-only cocktail bar. From a Barbie hotel, and a Barbie Fan Girl Cruise, these are just some of brands that appear to have joined the pink Barbie brigade.  

Named one of America’s most trusted brands in 2022, despite remaining controversially polarizing, the gross sales of Mattel’s Barbie brand amounted to about $1.49 billion worldwide in 2022. Interestingly, this figure is down, compared to 2021, when gross sales reportedly reached $1.68 billion.

Short-Term Rentals

Ask Skift: Airbnb and New York City Timeline

12 months ago

Ask Skift is our artificial intelligence chatbot that offers a new way for readers to better engage with our breadth of knowledge and our latest experimentation creating products travel professionals rely on. It digs into news stories, Skift Research reports, Airline Weekly issues, Skift Live events, the Daily Lodging Report, and more to answer many questions about the travel industry.

Here we asked it to provide a timeline that gives us better perspective on Airbnb’s relationship with one of its larger markets, New York City.

Can you provide a 10-year timeline covering Airbnb news in New York City?
Here is a timeline of Airbnb news in New York City over the past 10 years:

1. 2013: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenas Airbnb user records for hosts and guests in New York City (October 2013).

2. 2014: Skift and Connotate’s research shows that at least two-thirds of all Airbnb hosts in New York City were likely breaking the state’s short-term rental law (February 2014). In May 2014, a judge rules that the New York Airbnb subpoena is too broad, and the Attorney General will narrow the request.

3. 2015: New York City Council holds an eight-hour hearing to discuss the state of short-term rentals in the city, where Airbnb advocates for a change in the law that makes it illegal to rent an entire apartment for fewer than 30 days a month (January 2015). In November 2015, New York City plans to spend $10 million to regulate Airbnb and illegal hotels.

4. 2016: New York amends its state law to ban the advertising of short-term rentals (October 2016). Airbnb files a lawsuit against both the state and the city of New York, challenging the applicability of the 2016 amendment. In November and December 2016, Airbnb settles the lawsuit against the state and the city, with each agreeing not to enforce the amended law against the company.

5. 2018: New York City enacts a new law requiring home-sharing platforms to disclose detailed data on hosts and listings to the city on a monthly basis (July 2018). In August 2018, Airbnb files a lawsuit against the city, challenging the new data disclosure law on constitutional and statutory grounds.

6. 2019: In January 2019, a federal judge enters a preliminary injunction barring the new data disclosure law from going into effect. In February 2020, the parties request that the court stay the action so that they can explore settlement.

7. 2020: In June 2020, Airbnb settles its lawsuit with New York City, leading to the amendment of the city ordinance to reduce the number of listings subject to data sharing and to provide for the confidentiality of data.

8. 2021: The revised ordinance, which requires home-sharing platforms to disclose detailed data on hosts and listings to the city on a monthly basis, goes into effect in January 2021.

9. 2023: New York City expands its short-term rental ban by 2,300 more buildings and is in the process of clamping down on illegal short-term rentals, with fines against both hosts and platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com for non-compliance set to begin in July (March 2023).

Tags: airbnb, nyc