EU debates Airbnb with stricter regulations

Updates from Airbnb Inc

EU debates guidelines that would classify accommodation booking company Airbnb as a ‘hospitality gatekeeper’ platform, paving the way for much stricter regulation under its new digital markets law .

As they prepare to introduce the first major regulatory overhaul for internet companies in two decades, Brussels officials are discussing criteria for determining which online platforms are ‘gatekeepers’, such as their income and number of clients. ‘users.

However, officials are still unsure whether to adopt a narrow set of criteria to capture only the largest platforms, such as Google and Amazon, or whether to apply the definition to as many as 20 companies.

Two people with first-hand knowledge of the discussions said including Airbnb on the list was a “real possibility” due to its large share of the short-term rental market. Airbnb’s rival can also be classified as a “gatekeeper”.

More than half of homes offering short stays are listed on Airbnb, compared to 37% on and 22% on Expedia, according to figures from analyst firm Transparent, which analyzes global vacation rental listings. .

Companies classified as custodians by the EU may face regulations requiring them to share their customer data with smaller competitors and prohibit them from giving preferential treatment on their platforms to their own products and services.

The hotel industry, already in disarray due to the disruption of global travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, has stepped up its lobbying campaign for more regulation of online booking platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking.

“We want a level playing field in an environment where things are extremely difficult,” said a senior hospitality executive.

Jacques Lovell, head of public affairs at Hotrec, the trade body for hotels in Europe, which has been at the forefront of lobbying efforts, said Airbnb’s dominance in the rental market is short term meant that he assumed he would fall under EU tutelage new “gatekeeper” rules: “When we say short-term rentals, we say Airbnb, which I think says it all. “

A draft new law on digital markets should see the light of day in early December.

Airbnb, which is preparing for a multi-billion dollar public listing before the end of the year, said: “Travel is a competitive industry and we don’t think Airbnb, or the industries we operate in, are raising concerns identified with other companies. Competition in travel has brought significant benefits to European consumers in terms of choice, access and lower prices.

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