THE LEX COLUMN: BnB better in hotels than the knick-knack room
Airbnb is thinking about lunch and dinner before doing its big listing
Airbnb’s purchase of the San Francisco hotel bookings platform HotelTonight will set in motion the company’s plan to Amazonify itself before joining public markets. If Airbnb wants to be known for more than just home rentals it makes sense to compete more directly with Expedia or Booking.com by offering same-day hotel reservations at discount prices. Offering access to more hotel rooms also eases pressure on restrictions put in place by cities unhappy at the lack of taxes and regulatory oversight that come from streets full of Airbnb hosts. Buying HotelTonight is therefore less of an about-turn than it might seem. Airbnb may have started out as a place to find space on pullout sofas in spare rooms but the combination of service fees and professional landlords means the price difference between hotels and Airbnb rooms has narrowed. Standard hotel rooms may also appeal to business travellers. Less chance of weird knick-knacks, more last-minute bookings. Airbnb likes to keep most of it...