Article: What even is AirBnB anymore?

This article discusses some of the big changes we’ve noted here in anticipation for the IPO.


from the article:

So has Airbnb lost its soul?

Yes, … a while ago.


LOL. It lost its illusion of a soul.


@Xena, I enjoyed that article. It was a good summation. Interestingly all these articles focus on the big cities where so many of the problems are. It will be interesting to finally get some transparency after the IPO. Out here in the hinterlands it’s different. Most listing in El Paso are one host, one home. Also interestingly, several of the folks with more than one listing started with one, some about the time I did, and then added more over time. In the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time looking for listings to stay at. In the cities like Seattle, NYC, Boston, there are a lot of listings that I won’t book because they aren’t one host/one home or they appear to be in violation of law or lease. In Maine, inc. Portland, and most of the state of New Mexico it’s still the original vision of Airbnb.


Airbnb has a branding conundrum. The heart and soul is mom and pop listings. But the company focus has shifted to the hotel model, of which Plus’s rigid standardization is one.

Mom and Pops are being measured by the same assessment tools as a hotel room, but they are very different cultures. By attempting to merge them under the Airbnb banner, they detract from one another.

Mom and pops back in the day had a home baked family inclusiveness and the equivalent of a part time job. Now guests are evaluating them by hotel standards, despite the Mia Casa price points and extraordinary review goals.

To the rest of the world, the brand still means cheap and cheerful value. But expectations are higher. If Air don’t want it, consumers still do.


So to understand … you dig into the host’s # of listings, or indications that a co-host is actually a multi-property manager? And do you want the host to be on-site in a separate unit or in the home, or … ?

And what chaps me raw is that both AirBNB (I’ve seen this in person) and the investor hosts go marching to city and state legislatures and appropriate the much-loved Mom and Pop image, claiming falsely that “they are small local businesses, that offer an authentic local experience, and support little neighborhood restaurants,” ad nauseum.


All of us as hosts bought in to the warm and fuzzy model. But when Air goes IPO, follow the money.


Which gives rise to another opportunity disguised as an issue: which STR will fill the gap for the mom and pops?


For every property I consider renting I click on the host’s profile. That’s all the “digging” I have to do. There I will find their other listings: Here’s an example of a “host” whose properties I considered for an upcoming trip:

This an impressive group. I like the description of each of them. The properties look great and the 5 star average across all of them speaks volumes. However, they are not “one host, one home.” I don’t see evidence that they live in any of them. I don’t see that they are renting illegally yet but restrictions are going in place this summer and I won’t rent from anyone I think is operating illegally or in violation of their lease. I won’t even rent from people with pissed off neighbors. So if a listing says things like “don’t talk to the neighbors,” “if anyone asks tell them you are a friend visiting from out of town,” etc. I skip it. That said, if there isn’t anywhere suitable with one host, one home then I will stay with a property manager. That’s the equivalent of Mr. Hilton or Mrs. Marriott, but it’s a place to stay.

The owner doesn’t have to be on site. I rented one place where the owner has several properties in the town but he greeted us in person and worked in the front yard after we checked in. He had a LTR in the other side of the home. Another place was cabin in the mountains with owners that live far away but it’s really their vacation home with their stuff in the drawers, their food in the cupboards, etc. But most the Airbnb’s I’ve stayed in (7/11 so far total, all of the ones I’ve stayed in when traveling alone) are in people’s homes where they are living.

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I suspect that is not a viable business model.

Airbnb has mastered the manipulation of “hosts” and it is the UBER of holiday rentals. Performance is there but now they are compressing hosts to such an extent that it is perhaps not sustainable. See host forums for movements and comments. I hope the buyers of Airbnb will decide it is useful to collobarate profitably with hosts who respect local laws and taxes, make an above-board platform and work together.


“View all 24 listings”
2,588 reviews

Buzz these “hosts” off the stage!

Boston is going to start regulations soon. I don’t know how many listings they are going to lose. Some “hosts” are already moving into the other surrounding towns

Yep, San Fran’s “hosts” decamped to S San Fran & Daly City.

This is what gets my goat. When Seattle City Council started discussing regulating AirBnBs 2-3 years ago, the PR team would call me and ask me to come testify to City Council about how much the regulations would hurt my business. Actually, they’ll help my business by forcing the STR buildings to go back to LTR!

Interestingly, they were running an ad-campaign on the buses about how AirBnB helps mom and pop stay in their home as our city has become so unaffordable.

Our regulations in Seattle come into effect on June 1, though last I checked we still couldn’t register for an operator licence so I suspect this will be pushed back.

This is one of the STR buildings in our city that is driving the local prices down: The reviews aren’t great. The
owner gave an interview with our neighborhood blog and said she plans on converting some of the units back to LTR when the regulations come into effect in June. Her calendar is blocked after May, so I’m inclined to believe the regulations will work in this case.

This guy has 125 listings, which is the most I’ve ever seen, and many of the listings have awful reviews. Since he’s a “property management company” and not the owner of the building he might be exempt from the regulations. I wish AirBnB would actually remove the listings with bad reviews.


I have met Mario, the guy with 125 listings! It was my first AirBnB experience. This was 4 years ago, when he was leasing 15 houses that he ran as AirBnBs and he had great reviews at the time. He had converted part of the basement into a temporary apartment for his co-host/cleaner who got free rent in exchange. The house was at the very south end of Seattle, just north of Renton/Southcenter, so the location was great for me to visit friends in that area and do some shopping. For $30, I got a room with shared bath and a self catering breakfast that included eggs if I wanted. He came by the house because the current co-host was moving to another of his houses and he was showing the new co-host around. My only gripe was that he was too cheap to buy locks for the bedrooms, a concern for me because I was in Seattle to purchase a bunch of expensive electronics among other things.

You ain’t kidding!

There is absolutely nothing in apt to make it feel better then renting a hotel room. Not one tv, radio, clock etc… felt like I paid for a prison cell.

“a prison cell” :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Again, :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Exactly the same thing happened here. Air’s D.C. liaison called me to coordinate the fight against Baltimore’s STR legislation, and I said, “The in-home hosts AGREE WITH THE HOTELS that the investor hosts are unfairly damaging both hotels AND in-home hosts.”

Well that was the end of that planned conference call with in-home AND investor hosts, which I’m sure went ahead with investor hosts.

Did the doors have button locks but nothing more?

That is to comply with (widespread U.S.) zoning laws for any property zoned as a single-family home.

To put on anything more than a push-button lock, you need to get rezoned as a rooming house.


Bigger Pockets: Tenant requesting room locks installed

You might want to check local zoning. A landlord here got into trouble with the codes people, they shut him down, made him empty the building and he ended up selling the property.

There were 2 different code violations that applied here:

  1. No more than 3 unrelated people by blood or marriage can reside in a house in a SFH zone.

  2. If there are locks on the bedroom doors, they the codes people defined the property as a “rooming house”, which is not a permitted use in the SFH zone.

Nope, no locks. Just unlocked knobsets, except for the one bathroom and one half/bath (for four bedrooms).

WOW. So that violates code (and more important, common sense) in the OTHER direction (too lax) to what I had originally thought.