Accommodation in the sharing economy - Oliver Williams of Stay Lets
The boom of the sharing economy over the past five years is something we have all felt and perhaps benefited from.
But has the shine started to tarnish as lockdown brings all elements of our lives into sharper focus?
Perhaps the greatest exponent of this phenomenon is Airbnb. Now synonymous with affordable, authentic and engaging travel experiences, I wonder how many potential customers realise the damage that such businesses wreak on individuals and indeed communities.
Online travel agents (OTAs) and platforms such as Airbnb charge hefty fees of 15 per cent plus, for the simple service of a glorified marketing platform for, in many cases, small independent hospitality accommodation businesses.
Airbnb itself has led to residential communities emptying as properties are snapped up purely to rent to holiday makers, they flout local rules and the lack of regulation in this market is very concerning.
Publicly these OTAs will claim they check and enforce compliance and best practice on their "landlords" but in reality this is simply not the case. Many such properties would fail to meet even the most basic of safety standards that a hotel, for example, would have to adhere to just to open their doors.
Organisations such as The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) are a driving force in ensuring accommodation businesses of all shapes and sizes in the market are challenged and held to account. With rigorous accreditation and compliance processes, they provide a stamp of approval for the likes of StayLets and other accommodation providers, ensuring customer confidence in safety and quality.
As the travel world begins to open up again, both to businesses and leisure travellers, the movement towards safety, security and culpability will be significant.
Our advice? Book direct and book safely.
Stay Lets, which launched in 2019, has a block of 19 apartments in Cheltenham and additional accomodation in Egham, Surrey.
For more information, contact Stay Lets on 0330 1075 622 or email email@example.com.
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