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The hotel industry's secret plan to bring down AirBnB

David Pogue
Tech Critic

But this week, The New York Times reported on just how much AirBnB bothers the hotel industry: Its trade group, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which has a multimillion-dollar budget, has actually developed a secret program to cause trouble for AirBnB.

So far, the plan has succeeded in virtually shutting down AirBnB apartment rentals in New York City. (The AHLA helped persuade New York lawmakers to impose a law that issues fines as high as $7,500 for people who repeatedly advertise their apartments on AirBnB for less than 30 days if they’re not also staying there.) Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, and Washington, D.C. are the trade group’s next targets.

Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-founder of Airbnb, speaks to the Economic Club of New York at a luncheon at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Clearly, the hotel lobbyists are concerned about losing business to AirBnB and similar services. But they’re also unhappy with the uneven playing field. “Airbnb hosts often do not comply with rules imposed on hotels, like anti-discrimination legislation, local tax collection laws, and safety and fire inspection standards,” the Times reports.

The hotel industry’s other complaints: Lots of people are abusing the AirBnB model by buying many apartments and then renting them, essentially operating as a big hotel business. City governments are also concerned that these AirBnB businesspeople are, in the process, snapping up the supply of housing that city residents desperately need.

Needless to say, AirBnB suspects that the hotel industry has other motivations. “The hotel cartel is intent on short-sheeting the middle class so they can keep price-gouging consumers,” AirBnB spokesman Nick Papas told the Times.

Only one thing about AirBnB’s road ahead is sure: the hotel industry intends to make it as rough a ride as possible.

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David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can read all his articles here, or you can sign up to get his columns by email