Airbnb thinks Google is getting a pass on new short-term rental data rules in Europe

Skift grip

What’s good for the goose is good for Google. Or so Airbnb thinks.

Denis Schaal

Travel online this week

Airbnb think it is unfair that the European Commission is to propose increased data sharing requirements on short-term rental providers in the area, but Google seems to escape repression.

In a response to the European Commission’s proposal on data collection and sharing made earlier in 2022, Airbnb issued a statement at the end of last month noting that smaller players would have far less onerous compliance requirements than large short-term rental platforms, “or even more worryingly,” large players such as “google travel, which allows direct bookings of STR (Short-Term Rental) and thus escapes the definition of “online short-term rental platform” as set out” in the European Commission proposal.

Separately, although Airbnb’s global marketing strategy downplays the importance of Google over that which depends on Google Expedia and Booking.comit’s rare for Airbnb to be so specifically at loggerheads with Silicon Valley friend Google.

Airbnb got the facts wrong in this case because Google doesn’t do any “direct” short-term rental bookings. Google plays an indirect role in referring potential vacation rental customers from Google to short-term rental booking platforms, but no direct booking role.

Either way, it’s curious how Google Travel, which doesn’t process vacation rental bookings itself, but serves as a marketing arm for players such as, Vrbo, Tripadvisor, probe, Vacasa and many small businesses, would help implement the European Commission’s proposal to provide reservation data and guest registration information. For example, Google has few, if any, relationships with vacation rental hosts, unless they are property management companies offering short-term rentals for homeowners or occupiers. apartments.

Google is certainly a very big player – one of the biggest – in the European accommodation market, but it has gradually stopped taking bookings on behalf of partners over the last year, and whatever Either way, Google previously only facilitated hotel reservations, not vacation rentals. .

The stated objectives of the European Commission “are to harmonize and improve the framework for generating and sharing STR data across the European Union, and to improve transparency in the STR sector” .

Currently, data collection and sharing rules vary widely across the European Union, creating significant inequities and burdens on short-term rental booking sites due to the random and varied nature of local requirements.

Airbnb made a good point about the platforms’ compliance burdens when there are more than two dozen member states in the European Union, and it’s a reminder of how legislators sometimes pass laws without any real understanding of the technology and the impact of their legislation.

“However, the architecture of the data sharing framework remains national,” Airbnb said. “The existence of 27 different ‘unique’ data entry points will increase the likelihood of differences in the configuration of technical interfaces by each Member State and lead to compliance delays, as we have recently seen with our experiments of a national API in France.. From our experience in building these products, each technical difference between the national systems will require a dedicated product solution by the platform, which will incur significant compliance costs and new product releases for platforms and Member States and their local authorities.

Airbnb apparently would like to see uniform short-term rental regulations across the European Union, which said short-term rentals make up around 25% of its housing inventory.

Another weakness of the European Commission’s proposal is that it does not address national laws that go beyond recording and sharing data, such as in Barcelona, ​​where hosts, even when present during the stay, are virtually prohibited from renting rooms, Airbnb said. This is in contrast to other member states, where the regulations are much more favorable to Airbnb.

In Airbnb’s view, standardized data collection and sharing with a single entry point in the European Union, as well as uniform near-term regulations across the region would benefit the company and its competitors – as long as the rules are not too strict and Google would be subject to them too.

Neither Airbnb nor Google has commented on this story.

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