AIRBNB & STAYZ – ‘TRUST’ GOES DOWN THE DRAIN


In a recent online statement, Expedia (HomeAway/Stayz) promised to update corporate landlords on its lobbying within the NSW Parliament over the right to access and utilise all residential housing for the purposes of commercial holiday/visitor rentals. Having employed the services of Government Relations firm Barton Deakin, which was founded in 2009 by Liberal powerbroker and former Leader of the NSW Opposition Peter Collins, Expedia (HomeAway/Stayz) has enjoyed access to and meetings with NSW State Ministers. Barton Deakin is now owned by WPP plc, a British multinational communications, advertising, public relations, technology and commerce holding company, headquartered in London. WPP “…is considered the world’s largest advertising company, with revenue (2019) of GBP 13.23 billion. Ministers of the NSW Government do not meet with or include Community Residents Groups in government consultation ‘round tables’ and policy discussions. Frankly, the message from HomeAway/Stayz is clear – it is expected that NSW Planning Regulations will be overturned in order to legitimise their use of all housing as tourist/visitor accommodation, as broad and encompassing as their demand sees fit. Stayz:


“The NSW Government’s long-awaited Holiday Rental Code of Conduct is scheduled to come into force later this year on 18 December 2020.


For the past several years, Stayz has been working with the NSW Government and other stakeholders on the final text of the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct.


While Stayz supports the text of the Code of Conduct, we believe the Government’s failure to implement a register of all short-term rental accommodation properties will create confusion in our industry. Without the register, complaints about anti-social behaviour will be difficult to act upon and government will still have an incomplete picture of our growing industry. This will mean that the most commonly cited questions about our industry will remain unresolved, which will fuel calls for disadvantageous regulation that will harm our sector.


Also, the short implementation period of the Code of Conduct will leave some partners scrambling to be compliant with their obligations right on the eve of the most important peak holiday season for the tourism sector in living memory. We will do our best to assist partners who list with us to be compliant with the new Code of Conduct.


Stayz will keep partners updated about developments on this important topic. Information about the Government’s plans can be found at the following link.”


And if Members of the NSW Government and Public Servants believe that Airbnb is ready and willing to comply with any regulations whatsoever, they must refer to the company’s statement in Airbnb’s S-1 filing:


“When a government agency seeks to apply laws and regulations in a manner that limits or curtails hosts’ or guests’ ability or willingness to list and search for accommodations in that particular geography, we have attempted and may continue to attempt through litigation or other means to defend against such application of laws and regulations…”


In a recent Twitter tweet, Airbnb’s US-based Chris Lehane, Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Communications, trumpets a Tourism Australian campaign aimed at boosting tourism in regional areas. An Airbnb Media post goes on to quote Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison saying: “…she hoped Australians would take the opportunity to get out and explore all the incredible experiences and destinations that can be found right on their doorstep...”


When questioned as to whether or not this was an official partnership with Airbnb, or contrary to any partnership that is implied by Airbnb, Tourism Australia’s Public Affairs Manager Kim Moore writes:


…The ‘Holiday Here This Year’ is an overarching message that industry are able to align for their own promotional activities. As such there are a range of industry-wide partners – from traditional to non-traditional – who have adopted Tourism Australia’s overarching domestic approach to encourage Australians to holiday in Australia this year. However, while some partnerships are part of a commercial arrangement with Tourism Australia there are also those that are not. The Airbnb activity you mentioned is not a commercial partnership with Tourism Australia.”


So let’s see: from traditional to non-traditional” – could this mean ‘from accredited to illegal’?


The New York Post, Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that Airbnb’s former ‘chief trust officer’ and former deputy director with the FBI Sean Joyce was so concerned about how much “user real time data” the internet behemoth was sharing with China, he resigned from his post after just six months in the job. Joyce raised the alarm with Chief Executive Brian Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk…to which Blecharczyk reportedly said, “We’re not here to promote American values” – prompting Joyce’s immediate resignation.


A fun fact from Airbnb’s IPO listing: last year Airbnb spent US$307,797 on founder Brian Chesky’s security detail, including the costs of a leased vehicle, driver, and security detail, in each case, attributable to security at his personal residence or during personal travel”. No such security is provided to those who have Airbnb listings lobbed next door to their homes and families.


It could appear that NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro is miserable about our reporting on the profits his Airbnb/Stayz listing is amassing – we’ve been blocked from viewing his Twitter account. Shucks!

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