NY Attorney General Admits He's Targeting AirBnB To Protect The Big NY Hotels That Are Being Disrupted
from the protectionism-against-disruption dept
Over and over again in talking about innovative disruption, we talk about how incumbents turn to regulators and politicians to kill off that disruption. Usually, they don’t admit it directly — preferring to couch their language in talk about “safety” and protecting consumers — even though many of these disruptive systems actually appear to be better for consumers. However, sometimes politicians are willing to just flat out admit that they’re trying to protect incumbents from innovative upstarts. And that’s what’s now happened with NY’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.
Last fall, we wrote about how Schneiderman was demanding information on 15,000 AirBnB users in NY, claiming that he was hunting down “long-term illegal rentals.” In a NY Times article highlighting how AirBnB users (from both sides of the market) are pushing back against Schneiderman’s crusade against AirBnB, Schneiderman finally admits what everyone has known all along. He’s doing this to protect the big NY hotels from getting disrupted. And yes, he sandwiches the claim between claims of “just enforcing the law” and “protecting” people, but the message is pretty clear. This is about protecting the incumbent hotels:
First he said that “we have a well-regulated and extraordinarily successful hotel sector” that is “one of our finest industries and contributes a lot to the economy.” Then, a bit later, he added, “We’re just looking in New York to enforce New York law, and also, frankly, to protect our hospitality industry that goes through a lot of trouble to have great hotels, to protect tourists, to provide services, and to protect the people in our residential housing.”
It is true that NY law prevents short-term apartment rentals (basically anything less than 30 days). But to pretend this is about protecting the public is just ridiculous. I’ve stayed at many hotels in NY and a few AirBnB places — including some that likely fit Schneiderman’s definition of an “illegal hotel.” And, without question, the AirBnB experience every single time has been vastly superior to the hotel experience. It’s not even close. Assuming Schneiderman allows it to exist, I’ll continue to make use of AirBnB, and it’s not just because it’s usually cheaper (though it often is), but the overall experience is phenomenal. I get to stay in unique and interesting places in unique and interesting neighborhoods — usually much more convenient for my travel needs. One AirBnB host I met owns three apartments, living in one (renting out the spare bedroom), but mostly focusing on full time renting out the other two. The service was great — and much more personalized than any hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
The last thing I want is for NY’s Attorney General to “protect me” from that.