In other news.. Guesty, an Airbnb Preferred Partner - which bills itself as "the ultimate property management platform for short-term and vacation rentals" - is under investigation for illegal Airbnb bookings in NYC.
In a subpoena filed yesterday, city officials say Guesty has facilitated the expansion of illicit short-term rental "empires" that violate local regulations.
Small, independent local hosts and co-hosts who wonder why you're all getting no business, or why you're getting shut down when big "professional" and commercial operators continue to flourish and thrive in your markets, apparently with impunity - this one's for you..
NYC's Crackdown On Illegal Airbnb Empires Has A New Target
Resolved! Go to the Featured Answer.
As regular contributors to the CC are (painfully!) aware, I've been posting for years about scammers just like the ones outed in the London Wired articles, the US Vice articles, and the CBC AJ investigation. I've come across literally hundreds of them, in scores of different markets worldwide, with tens of thousands of listings between them, saved mountains of screenshots, written countless posts, and am sick to death at this point of banging on and on about them (and I'm sure everyone else is sick of me banging on about them too!)
The problem was though, for the longest time, nobody - not hosts, not CC'ers, not Airbnb, not the media, not authorities, not anyone - had the slightest interest in hearing a word about them, nor gave two sh*ts about what these scammers were up to, or what damage and destruction they were causing for everyone, but particularly for small local hosts who are being/have been pushed out of business by them, and for local residents who are being/have been pushed out of their homes -and their hometowns - by them.
I've been scorned, scolded, attacked, sneered at, blanked, labelled toxic and delusional, and called all sorts of names for trying to warn people what was happening, and all the while, the scammers were thriving and flourishing, and their numbers skyrocketing, in every town and city on the planet.(the 1% of hosts/15% of listings statistic doesn't even come close to describing the sheer scale of this issue) And yet, everyone was perfectly happy to turn a blind eye and ignore what was taking place right under their noses. Perhaps they thought that if they refused to acknowledge that the Airbnb platform was a lawless breeding ground for scammers, rogues and criminals, then it couldn't possibly be true. Airbnb, it seemed, were untouchable, invincible and irreproachable.
These fraudsters - not us - are the "hosts" that are plundering long-term rental stock, providing sh*t service to travellers, running unmonitored and often substandard listings, allowing anti-social guests to run rampage, destroying neighbourhoods, displacing local residents and forcing municipal authorities to bring in draconian regulations, which wipe out regular hosts, (but are ignored by the big boys)
So I can't begin to tell you how happy - and relieved - I am that the truth has finally started to leak out, drip by drip - not only about the scammers, but also about the supposedly "legit" mega-operators, who are also violating all sorts of laws and regulations behind their slick tech-bro facades, whilst being shielded, protected, supported and promoted by Airbnb itself (The epic NYC legal battle being just one case in point)
This is just the beginning - it won't be long now until the trickle turns into a torrent, and the whole world starts to see the true picture of the fraud, deception and corruption that's really going on in the Airbnb "ecosphere". And only then will the playing field start to level again for small, independent hosts, like us. It can't come soon enough.
*"When asked whether Guesty would remain a preferred software partner, Airbnb declined to comment"
Will be fascinating to see how this plays out...
@Susan17 I was just reading that article - it crossed my news feed this afternoon !
In other news, I got an email yesterday about attending a Chicago City Council "Short Term Rental Hearing" meeting.
"On Wednesday, March 4, the Chicago City Council's License and Consumer Protection Committee will be hosting a public hearing to discuss making the city's short-term rental ordinance more restrictive. It's important that local hosts like you attend and voice your support for home sharing in Chicago.
This is your opportunity to share your hosting story and to urge the city to maintain fair rules for home sharing. "
Unfortunately, I'm working at my day job.
And I just read that they have announced a possible deferment of their IPO until 2021 due to the coronavirus. How convenient- something to deflect from the real reasons.
That was always going to happen, @Sarah977 -- the company (or its books) are in no fit state to be heading to IPO right now. While it may seem like an easy convenience for them to have a perfectly valid excuse to push their public launch out for another 12 months or more, the further postponement could also very easily turn out to be catastrophic for Airbnb.
Given the recent spate of scandals and bad news days that have befallen the company, the unsavoury rumours circulating (and escalating) about their operatons and how they conduct them, the haemorrhaging of funds on poorly-conceived and ill-fated projects, the apparent lack of strong leadership and clear route to profitability, the burgeoning regulatory issues they're facing worldwide, and of course the as yet incalculable damage they'll inevitably suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, things really aren't looking too rosy for Airbnb's sustainability at this point in time.
They really should have taken direction from former CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and accomplished Wall St veteran Laurence Tosi, who bailed in February 2018, following a series of clashes with Brian Chesky, believed to be as a result of Chesky's unwillingness to go to IPO at that time. (Tosi's private equity firm Westcap, subsequently became a lead investor in Sonder's $225 million Series D funding round last summer, with Tosi now sitting on Sonder's board) I'd imagine Airbnb are deeply regretting that decision to delay now.
No, although it appears that way upon first reading, @Michelle53, it's not actually the successful resolution of the Guesty issue that Crain's is referring to there (hard to imagine there'll be any sort of happy ending to that particular debacle) but rather, Airbnb's epic - and eye-wateringly costly - battle with NYC over an ordinance that would require Airbnb to turn over specific data on hosts, which would effectively force the company to out the thousands of illegal listings operating on its platform there that are believed to be violating local laws - estimated by NYC officials to be around 35000 (of 55000 total)
The ordinance has been on hold for over a year while the case proceeds, with both parties due to report back to the courts within the next two weeks. Without a doubt, the inconvenient little Guesty problem will have thrown a serious spanner in the works as regards the progression of the settlement talks that have been taking place between Airbnb and NYC in recent weeks. The timing of the findings of the Guesty investigation couldn't really have been much worse for Airbnb.
@Susan17 It's just so disheartening to read, "Unlawful operators often report finding the potential profits—which sometimes reach well into the multimillion-dollar range—well worth the risk of whatever civil penalties or fines they would stand to receive if caught."
Such cynicism is hardly surprising, however, in a world where Trump is our president.
A few years ago, Airbnb actually promised it would crack down on the illegal operators in NYC. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/technology/airbnb-proposes-cracking-down-on-new-york-city-hosts.h...)
They really love empty words out there in Chesky land. Literally their favorite thing.
"It's just so disheartening to read, "Unlawful operators often report finding the potential profits—which sometimes reach well into the multimillion-dollar range—well worth the risk of whatever civil penalties or fines they would stand to receive if caught."
It's a million times more disheartening - heartbreaking, actually - to be forced to stand helplessly by and watch in horror as said unlawful operators ravage your city, destroy your neighbourhood, decimate your business and casually disregard the laws of the land that cripple the little guys, while making their multi-millions.
The cynicism has been going on a very long time. Despite their periodic oaths to crack down on illegal operators, Airbnb has been caught red-handed doing the very opposite, both before and after Trump became your president..
Nov 2015. Researchers Say Airbnb Fudged New York City Listing Data
March 2019. Airbnb Tells Judge It Missed Hosts Tied To Illegal Hotels
Even harder to believe that a company can raise $100+ million from Airbnb, to sublet swathes of properties on Airbnb, in direct competition with small local hosts, grafting their arses off to try and make a living, who don't have the benefits or privilege of filthy-rich sugar daddies spurring them on with huge wads of cash. I think you'd call that a corrupt kind of innovation.