Airbnb attracts the wrath of Paris for its partnership with the Olympics

PARIS-Agence France-Presse

Airbnb has become a major partner of the Olympics in a nine-year deal announced on November 18, which drew heavy criticism from Paris, host of the 2024 Summer Games.

In the deal unveiled in London, the home rental platform became a “Top” partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), joining titans like Coca Cola and Visa at the highest level of sponsorship.

But in a letter sent last week and seen by AFP on November 18, the mayor of Paris warned IOC President Thomas Bach about the “risks” of the agreement.

Socialist Anne Hidalgo, candidate for re-election in 2020, swore her “total determination” to toughen the rules on tourist rentals in the French capital, which is also one of Airbnb’s biggest markets.

“By removing a significant number of homes in Paris, Airbnb is contributing to the rise in rents and worsening the shortage of apartments in the rental market, to the detriment of all Parisians, especially the middle class,” writes Hidalgo.

Later on November 18, Hidalgo’s deputy said the mayor had promised “to hold a referendum immediately after the election” so that Parisians could decide “on the terms of use by Airbnb” in the French capital.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said on November 18 that the IOC partnership “will ensure that the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable to date.”

He confirmed recently announced verification improvements to keep customers safe after a fatal shooting at one of his listed homes in California.

The IOC did not disclose any financial details, but Bach said the “historic” deal would help bring the Olympics into “the digital age.”

He said this “will provide accommodation which will reduce costs for the organizers of the Olympic Games and all stakeholders”.

“This will minimize the need for (new) construction,” Bach said, adding that the athletes would continue to stay in the Olympic Village.

Airbnb said the deal would result in “hundreds of thousands of new hosts” and provide “Olympic experiences” to Airbnb customers, such as spending time with an elite athlete.

” Unfair competition “

Airbnb insisted the partnership would financially benefit visitors and hosts.

“We’re not trying to limit the number of people who participate, especially as hosts,” said Chris Lehane, senior vice president of global policy and communications at Airbnb.

“It’s a very different model from the traditional accommodation (hotel) industry … Their basic model is that you want to limit the number of rooms so that you can increase the rates.”

But in his letter, Hidalgo accused the platform of “destabilizing local businesses and unfairly competing with traditional hotels”.

In a study published last month by Euromonitor International, the market research provider noted that “short-term rentals have benefited from consumer preference for authentic, local and off-the-beaten-path accommodation options.”

“Hence Airbnb’s astronomical rise from nowhere 10 years ago, to 4% of global accommodation, overtaking major hotel players,” he added.

The Airbnb-CIO partnership begins with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, continues until the Beijing Winter Games two years later, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the Winter Games of 2026 in Milan-Cortina and ends with the summer events of Los Angeles in 2028.

Gebbia said the partnership “will leave a lasting positive legacy for athletes and host communities”.

Tony Estanguet, the president of the organizing committee for the 2024 Games, came to reassure the French hotel industry.

“The partnership with Airbnb is a global choice of the IOC and covers several editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games over many years,” he said. “Since the announcement of our candidacy, we have chosen to rely on the capital’s incredible hotel infrastructure.

The deal comes shortly after Airbnb pledged to verify all seven million of its listings worldwide by December 2020 after the California shooting fueled new security concerns about the platform. ‘accommodation.

Launched in 2008, Airbnb is planning a stock market launch next year, hoping to be better received than other companies operating in the “gig” economy.

Office-sharing company WeWork recently delayed its IPO as its valuation plummeted.

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