Airbnb, the tech company that allows people to rent out their homes over the internet, is considering adding new features to their popular service. Rumors are that Airbnb is interested in doing an IPO, so their introduction of new features is one way for them to boost the potential value of their stock. New features include the ability to look for rental units with other users, additional support for businesses looking to use Airbnb and a more sophisticated rating system for renters and property owners.
These moves are strategic for Airbnb, and the support for businesses is a very powerful move. Billions of dollars are spent annually on business travel, and Airbnb wants to cash in on this. Much like Uber providing cheaper rates than taxi companies, Airbnb allows homeowners to provide cheaper rentals than hotels and steal business away from them. The tech companies call this innovation, but the taxi drivers and hotel owners call it an illegal business.
As such, Airbnb finds itself clashing with regulators. In the United States, Seattle city government is proposing regulation to prevent commercial customers from renting out space on the Airbnb platform. The Seattle city government wants private homeowners to rent out extra space, but they want to keep all of the housing stock in Seattle available for actual people living there, not short-term rentals. This is happening among Seattle’s housing crisis and economic growth. As for Airbnb? Things are looking good.