| SAN FRANCISCO, March 7
SAN FRANCISCO, March 7 Airbnb, the leading
online marketplace for short-term lodging, on Tuesday invited
some of the owners of properties listed on its service, known as
hosts, to attend executive board meetings and offered them more
direct contact with its chief executive, in an attempt to give
the people vital to the company's success a greater say in how
it is run.
Airbnb depends on the loyalty and advocacy of its hosts -
people who rent out their homes and apartments through the
company's website - in its battles with regulators in cities
across the globe.
Unlike the guests that use Airbnb, hosts are usually voters
and taxpayers in their communities, and have more sway with
elected officials. Host advocacy was pivotal to the defeat of
Proposition F in San Francisco, a measure on the ballot in 2015
to limit short-term rentals.
In an event at Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters on
Tuesday, attended by dozens of Airbnb hosts from across the
world, CEO Brian Chesky announced that he will have more direct
communication with hosts through periodic emails and quarterly
Facebook Live events. He added that Airbnb will create an
advisory board made up of hosts, and will invite certain hosts
to one board meeting a year.
Airbnb will also expand the number of what it calls 'host
clubs' to 1,000 from 114 by the end of 2018, Chesky said. The
hosts clubs were launched in 2015 as an effort to galvanize
hosts to engage with local officials and head off regulatory
crackdowns. Chesky also said he would take on the additional
title of head of community.
Airbnb has faced opposition from local governments and the
established hospitality industry in many places, just as
ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc has faced
opposition from local regulators and existing taxi services.
Uber has benefited from both passengers and drivers lobbying
local elected officials to legalize the service, but Airbnb has
the problem that guests who stay in Airbnb homes are usually
from another city or country.
That means Airbnb has to rely on its hosts, who make up
about 3 million of the total 150 million Airbnb users globally,
to appeal to local officials for regulations friendly to Airbnb.
"Our community (of hosts) is able to be a counterweight to
the historic power of the hotel industry," said Chris Lehane,
Airbnb's head of global policy. "They are real people who do
More than 5,700 Airbnb hosts have attended a political event
and about 10,700 hosts have contacted an elected official
regarding Airbnb, the company said Tuesday. Airbnb operates in
about 65,000 cities across 191 countries.
(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Bill Rigby)