Airbnb challenge moves to Calgary

OTTAWA — First came Vancouver, then Toronto. Now, Calgary is next, with a pipeline of cities lined up to follow them. HAC has led the industry in the fight for fair rules and a level playing field for Airbnb.

Hotel Hill Day kicked off the fight for fair rules and a level playing field for Airbnb.

Hotel Hill Day kicked off the fight for fair rules and a level playing field for Airbnb.

OTTAWA —
First came Vancouver, then Toronto. Now, Calgary is next, with a pipeline of
cities lined up to follow them. The Hotel Association of Canada has led the industry in
the fight for fair rules and a level playing field for Airbnb.

HAC has
nothing against the people who want to earn extra money by renting out part of
their homes on Airbnb, the people who provide the public face of the short-term
rental platform’s ads. It does object to the huge percentage of Airbnb listings
that come from commercial operators who are direct competitors to hotels. These
are people who have more than one home or more than one unit or multi-units.

Dave Kaiser, AHLA.

Dave Kaiser, AHLA.

Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association is working with HAC to push for change. “From a perspective of a level playing field, what we've seen in many cities are what we would call commercial operators, where we have folks that are actually renting units on a full-time basis,” he told the Calgary Eyeopener. 

“From the data we've seen, that represents maybe a minority of the actual listings on platforms like Airbnb, but constitutes the majority of the revenues.

“So when we're looking at that, we see these operators are really operating like hotels, but in terms of regulations around our business, they're totally not the same.”

“At a critical time, the industry has
come together to stand up against a competitor that's not playing fair,” said
Susie Grynol, president of HAC.

“A key component of this movement was
the unification of the industry's city and provincial associations, together
with the Hotel Association. We were able to share information, combine
resources and develop research-based campaign tools with broad, national
reach.

“The industry has come together in a big
way,” said Grynol of the association's campaign. “Not only are they
supporting our campaign financially, they are showing up to public hearings and
sending letters to councillors and Members of Parliament. We even had a group
of industry leaders fly to Ottawa for a 1.5 day Parliament Hill event
consisting of over 65 high-level meetings with Ministers, MPs and
Senators.”

First came HAC’s Parliament Hill Day.  Then came the Vancouver hearings in November and passage of legislation that would limit short-term rentals to principal
residences. This set a precedent for other cities to follow.

One month later, the City of Toronto, working
with the HAC, Tony Elenis of ORHMA and Terry Mundell of GTHA, helped mobilize
support there. Toronto also ruled on limiting the platform to principal
residences along with an enforcement component.

Now the focus has shifted to Calgary, whose
mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has moved to start studying the issue in April, and to
pass legislation inside 2018. Other cities are looking at the issue, but
haven’t passed motions.

Susie Grynol, Hotel Association of Canada.

Susie Grynol, Hotel Association of Canada.

“The impact has been profound, and
measurable, with several big cities having recently passed new, favourable
regulations on the short-term rental Industry,” said Grynol of the
campaign's success. “We have a big opportunity ahead to tackle the
remaining big cities in Canada over the next 18-24 months and to deal with this
issue once and for all.”