Airbnb latest disruptor facing possible disruption

Software is being developed at such a rate that it is impossible to create rules to prevent the positive disruptions they offer becoming damaging. Government and businesses need to be prepared to let the technology develop, find its place in the economy, and then fine tune through legislation or new policies. Let it run and then make changes. You could call it agile regulation development.

Following Uber’s trouble acquiring a new licence to operate in London Airbnb could be next in line for a taste of its own disruptive medicine.

The UK government has given The Open Data Institute a grant so it can do some projects including looking at the impact property sharing websites like Airbnb are having on local communities.

With people offering their properties to people for as little as a day through platforms like Airbnb there are accusations that house shortages are resulting because home owners prefer this to long term rental customers. Also prices are going up for locals amid new competition for properties.

In the Netherlands there has already been action by authorities to regulate companies like Airbnb. When tourists that had booked accommodation in a heavily populated areas were causing disturbances, and prices were rising for residents due to tourist demands, Amsterdam ruled that an Airbnb property could only be rented for 60 days a year.

So the UK government looks like it wants to get the full picture before putting together its own legislation to protect communities against potential problems caused by property sharing platforms.

According to the Telegraph Jeni Tennison, the ODI’s chief executive said: “There’s a strong government interest in looking at this particular area.”

“[It’s] a new kind of business model that we’re seeing emerging, but there are questions about how to regulate it and how can government understand the impact these P2P platforms are having,” said. Tennison said that the project could include looking at how housing stock and public services are affected in areas where there are many properties on short-term letting sites.

Regulation could put pressure on the disrupters and might reduce their advantages. Like the case with Uber when Transport for London rejected its licence to opera tap[plication due to a lack of corporate responsibility and Ryan Air experiencing pilot shortages as a result of their way of contracting, Airbnb could soon be hit by new laws which make its business model less appealing.

Next up, facing potentially tougher government rules, could be businesses using of drone technology. Logistics companies, for example, are planning to use drones to make deliveries. But news that a drone has collided with a commercial aircraft in Canada brings home, in as overt a manner possible, the importance of regulation.

Organisations need to take into consideration that their business models might face scrutiny down the line, or might have flaw, and might need to change.

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“[It’s] a new kind of business model that we’re seeing emerging, but there are questions about how to regulate it and how can government understand the impact these P2P platforms are having,”

For this type of business model, Is P2P (person to person) a better description than sharing? Perhaps, but P2P sounds more like selling something at a garage sale, or renting a property through Craigslist. 

When an automated intermediary, like eBay or Airbnb, is involved is it really still person-to-person? I think it's more like person-to-business-to-person.

This is an important point because that's the difference between the vacation rentals of today, versus the pre-Airbnb vacation rentals that (everyone claims) weren't so bad. 

And, because of the difficulties in enforcing vacation rental regulations, the first to be enforced should be the easiest, namely going after those who rely on a business intermediary like Airbnb or VRBO.

Airbnb, VRBO, Uber, Lyft, and even eBay are transaction businesses, not just advertisers. As such, they should be accountable to regulating and taxing authorities. Just because you're doing business through one of these entities shouldn't mean that you get to sidestep the regulations that protect society.