Blurring the line between hotels and home-shares


Blurring the line between hotels and home-shares

irbnb and RXR Realty will collaborate to convert New York City buildings into hotel space.
May 2, 2019

Earlier this week, the hospitality industry experienced a small seismic shift with two announcements: first, that Airbnb and RXR Realty will collaborate to convert New York City buildings into hotel space listed exclusively through Airbnb; second, that hotel giant Marriott International will build a full-fledged home-sharing division into its business. These are just the latest examples of how the lines between hotels and home-sharing – two factions of the hospitality business that have sparred as the latter grows in prominence – are blurring.

New York City has seen perhaps the most contentious battle between home-sharing and hotels, with home-sharing giant Airbnb still locked in regulatory fights at both the city and state level. But buried within the announcement of Airbnb and RXR’s new partnership – which will involve 10 floors at 75 Rockefeller Plaza being converted into hotel rooms listed through Airbnb – is the fact that the new urban hospitality product will be operated with the organized labor standards of SEIU 32BJ and the New York Hotel Trades Council, which has been one of Airbnb’s toughest opponents in lobbying against the company’s favored regulatory proposals. This doesn’t mean that HTC will meet Airbnb at the negotiating table anytime soon, but working in the same arena could present that opportunity.

Marriott’s announcement, on the other hand, could pose a competitive threat to Airbnb’s business, although Airbnb co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky has denied this, saying that the company feels more flattered than threatened. “To tell me that the largest hospitality company in the world is looking in the space, I think, is a huge testament to what we’ve done, to the market we’re in,” Chesky said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.” “We’ve had about half a billion guest arrivals. So I think it’s just more a validation that anything.”

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Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.