LOS ANGELES -- Airbnb has a message for the politicians who
are warring with the company: You'll come around.
Chris Lehane, the company's head of global policy and public
affairs, said Airbnb's growing popularity among guests and hosts will force
politicians in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Barcelona and Berlin to
make an effort to find legal common ground with the homestay network.
Lehane, speaking Thursday at the Airbnb Open conference, noted
that Airbnb has reached deals to collect occupancy taxes in more than 200
cities within the past year, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia and
"Politicians are really good at counting to 50 plus
one," said Lehane. "This is where the majority is, this is something
that's wildly popular, and this is the direction where the world is going."
With Airbnb's 3
million listed homes hosting a collective 70 million guests during the past
year, Airbnb's growth continues to outpace the overall accommodations industry,
causing opposition from hotel lobbyists in addition to politicians and affordable-housing
Airbnb sued its home city of San Francisco earlier this year
over new requirements for hosts to register with the city.
Lehane said Airbnb has tried to address the city's
short-term housing concerns by adopting a policy where each host can list only one
unit. However, he added that full compliance with the registration process may
take a prospective host as long as 30 days.
As for claims from hotel lobbyists that Airbnb hosts have an
unfair advantage because their homes don't have to meet the requirements that
hotels do, Lehane said that the global hotel industry generated a record $73
billion in profit last year.
"We see data suggesting that millennials are traveling
more [than they would've otherwise without the option of home-based
accommodations]," Lehane said. We think there's significant space for
everyone to succeed."