The Real Deal New York

In new ads, Airbnb hosts tout benefits of “home sharing”

New spots say bill to crack down on home-sharing hurts middle class New Yorkers
July 15, 2016 08:00AM

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

Airbnb is deploying new ads espousing the benefits of short-term renting (though they call it “home sharing”) in its attempt to quash a bill that aims to crack down on illegal short-term rentals.

The campaign — set to launch today — features Airbnb hosts warning that the proposed legislation would hurt middle-class New Yorkers looking to supplement their income by renting their apartments.

The ads replace a campaign that instead took aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration is reviewing the bill, according to the New York Daily News.

“Gov. Cuomo has a chance to veto the anti-Airbnb bill that hurts middle class New Yorkers,” stated the original ad, which gave the governor’s office number.

The new version simply states: “There’s a chance to stop the anti-Airbnb bill that hurts middle class New Yorkers.”

The state legislature passed a bill that slaps fines on illegal rentals through the apartment-sharing site in June.

Asked why Airbnb removed Gov. Cuomo from its line of fire, the company said in a statement: “We believe this is an issue that impacts every New Yorker and wanted to ensure that we are speaking to the broadest possible audience.”

The startup — which last month raised $1 billion in debt to fuel an expansion — is footing the seven-figure bill for the campaign, which includes radio spots and ads in movie theaters.

While a spokesman for the Cuomo administration said the bill is under review, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal questioned Airbnb’s motive. “Obviously if they’re willing to spend seven figures to urge the governor to veto the bill, it just shows what an integral part of their business model the advertising of illegal units is,” she said.

Earlier this week, Airbnb came out with new data on its New York City users that show “hosts” listing multiple units still make up a growing proportion of users. Such users account for 4.5 percent of all listers, up from 3.5 percent in November 2015, the analysis found.

Also this week, Santa Monica, Calif. convicted its first illegal Airbnb host, a year after the city passed a law cracking down on short-term rental platforms. [NYDN] — E.B. Solomont