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Regulating the P2P economy: Airbnb 2015-180.1

18 December 2015



Airbnb is an online marketplace connecting householders/owners (‘Hosts’) with travellers (‘Guests’) wishing to rent private accommodation on a short-term basis. Airbnb acts as the intermediary, facilitating communication and payments between the parties, for a percentage-based fee. From humble beginnings in a San Francisco loft to worldwide phenomenon, listings now span more than 34,000 cities in 190-plus countries. Benefits to Guests include greater accommodation options, often at cheaper prices than hotels. Hosts, meanwhile, can earn money from their unused space, whenever they want. But not everyone has welcomed the start-up with open arms. Hotels have complained that they are being unfairly undercut by operators who are not bound by, for example, the same health and safety requirements. Resident groups have raised concerns about housing affordability and having significant numbers of transient visitors in their buildings and neighbourhoods. A number of Hosts and Guests, meanwhile, have ended up entwined in complex and expensive legal and insurance issues. Existing laws are frequently outdated or hard to apply. Legislators around Australia, and the world, are faced with the difficult question of how to best accommodate Airbnb and other ‘home-sharing’ services. This case is part of ANZSOG’s Regulating the P2P Economy series.

This series comprises a ‘backgrounder’ outlining key aspects of the P2P sector, significant areas of concern and some of the challenges facing regulators, and three high profile company examples (Uber, Airbnb, and Seeking Arrangement). Instructors can use this case on Airbnb in various ways. It can be used as a standalone example of the impact of a disruptive service delivery platform and the key public policy issues being generated. It can be used to illustrate and expand on specific issues by pairing it with the ‘backgrounder’ case as preparatory reading for students, especially those not overly familiar with P2P platforms. It can also be used for contrast and comparison discussion with the other company examples in the series (Airbnb, Seeking Arrangement) or, alternatively, instructors can pair the case with an organisation or situation of their own.

Authors: Marinella Padula
Published Date: 18 December 2015
Author Institution: ANZSOG
Featured Content Length: 15
Content Length: 11
Product Type: Part A, Primary resources