The race is on between me and Airbnb
The race is on between me and Airbnb
27 MARCH 2017 7:21 AM

Management companies seeking to help hosts of collaborative consumption hospitality services such as Airbnb are increasing, and I cannot get away from them even when out for a training run.

I often race the number 63 bus the five miles from the neighborhood of Honor Oak Park in Southeast London to my office in Blackfriars along the River Thames.

The bus has to stop to allow passengers on and off. I do not, but one day last week I decided to run alongside it to read further the advertisement plastered on its right-hand side.

It was for Hostmaker, a London-based property management company that has a sort of a pigeon as its branding exercise and a message that it is a digital resource for Airbnb owners.

I had never heard of it before, which I do realize is my ignorance.

“Ooh, that’s not very fair,” I thought, so I stepped up the pace and left the advertisement and the bus at the traffic lights and junction where Peckham Rye crosses East Dulwich Road.

We all realize that there are resources out there for Airbnb owners in terms of resource management and revenue upticks, but such digitized, professional input seems remarkably boorish if you are a hotel owner with real skin in the game.

Guests are seemingly in love with a service that started merely as a couch-sharing forum, and they are increasingly getting a worse deal, too.

They must be. The cost of all these clever, useful services must be passed on to someone, I assume.

There are competitors to Hostmaker. Airsorted and Portico Host are others in the United Kingdom. Pillow is in the U.S. No doubt there are others.

Some offer what they probably annoyingly term “concierge solutions” and “value propositions.” These include anything from revenue management to photography and key holding, cleaning—with hotel-quality linen no less—and even guest approval and utilities management.

Some even do property maintenance, which our industry calls capital expenditure.

I am not surprised that organizations such as the British Hospitality Association continue to express disbelief about the entire idea.

They do not think home-sharing will disappear—nor do they think it should be made to disappear—but they believe there should be a level playing field. It’s my opinion that hoteliers are tired of the argument that says home-sharing guests are merely customers that wouldn’t stay in a hotel in the first place.

I have used Airbnb once, which was a very nice experience, and I have one booked for two days on an upcoming trip to Iceland.

Looking around a couple of these management sites, I see no options, paid or otherwise, that help with insurance, fire safety, evacuation procedures and legal liability, unless, it is covered under—and I quote from Hostmaker’s website: “and any potential issues.”

Fairness runs at the heart of the British psyche. There can be no other reason for our mania for queueing.

A good deal does, too, I realize.

The number 63 bus disappears from my view as it heads along a one-way system and I run in another direction along what was the old Surrey Canal bed paralleling Jocelyn Street.

The bus then gets stuck in heavier traffic on the Old Kent Road, one of the major arteries into Central London.

By the time it reaches the Bricklayers Arms roundabout (the pub has long gone) where St. Saviour’s & St. Olave’s school sits, I’m well gone, too.

I take that as conclusive proof the system for administering and policing Airbnb and its like will have to speed up and change route.

The traditional hotel industry could be further doomed, though, as I see the CEO of Hostmaker has worked both at InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Conspiracy theorists should take notice that Hostmaker has its headquarters at 2 Angel Square, London, where—and I know they are separate businesses—I recently attended an Expedia open day at space that company occupies.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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