The Real Deal Miami

Hotel industry vs. Airbnb heats up as FIU will not conduct research project

FIU said a dispute over copyright and control of the information led it to drop out of hotel industry-funded research
August 11, 2017 12:05PM

FIU Inset: Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

The hotel industry’s campaign against Airbnb and other online short-term rentals has taken a new turn.

Florida International University, a state university that gets some of its funding from Florida taxpayers, has dropped out of an American Hotel and Lodging Association-funded research project on the safety and security of short-term rentals, the Miami Herald reported.

The university blamed a dispute with the hotel association over the copyright for the research and control of the information. FIU is walking away from a $68,210 grant, which was never awarded, according to the Herald.

“It’s important that we maintain the copyright for any material that we do so we can determine how that material will be used. We don’t do work for other people to just produce an outcome,” Mike Hampton, dean of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, told the Herald. “We want to make sure the integrity of the data is always maintained.”

Last year, FIU’s involvement with the AHLA was made public after leaked documents revealed the hotel association’s intentions to “advance a national narrative” to regulate short-term rentals. FIU was one of several universities bidding to conduct research sponsored by the hotel association. A CBRE study was also listed in the documents.

According to a statement by the AHLA, the association will be seeking other research partners to fill FIU’s place in the project. It said the study on the safety of short-term rentals is “important research,” according to the Herald.

Last month, at a national telephone press conference, watchdog blog Checks & Balances, which is partly funded by Airbnb, criticized FIU for what appeared to be “pay to play” contracts, according to FloridaPolitics.com.

Legislation curbing Airbnb is spreading throughout the nation as politicians take steps towards regulating online home-sharing companies. Miami-Dade and Broward counties recently started collecting tourist taxes on all short-term rentals. Miami and Miami Beach are among the cities that have recently implemented strict restrictions on short-term rentals.  [Miami Herald]Amanda Rabines