PHOTO: An Airbnb office. (photo via Flickr/Open grid Scheduler)
It's no secret that there's no love lost between the hotel industry and Airbnb, with the former having worked hard over the last year to combat the home-sharing platform's ascension into a formidable competitor.
However leaked documents recently obtained by the New York Times shed additional light on the hotel industry's strategy to put the clamps on Airbnb and other short-term rentals.
Citing minutes of the American Hotel and Lodging Association's (AHLA) November board meeting, the Times reported that the plan to keep Airbnb at bay was a "multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level."
The documents define the objective of the 2017 short-term rental strategy as follows:
"Build on the success of 2016 efforts to ensure comprehensive legislation in key markets around the country and create a receptive environment to launch a wave of strong bills at the state level while advancing a national narrative that furthers the focus on reigning in commercial operators and the need for commonsense regulation of short-term rentals."
In an emailed statement to the Times, Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said the extensive plan proves that "the hotel cartel is intent on short-sheeting the middle class so they can keep price-gouging customers."
Interestingly, though, one of the strategic imperatives outlined in the hotel industry's plan for 2017 is to aggressively counter Airbnb's "we're just helping the middle-class make ends meet" narrative through personal testimonials of consumers who have been harmed by the company.
The AHLA also plans to continue coordinating with state and local hotel associations and other groups to drive common sense laws, build on the narrative that illegal hotel operators are driving much of Airbnb's revenue, advance federal legislative efforts to level the playing field, build a case for allies to dismiss potential litigation threats and continue working with Attorneys General to spur action and enforcement.
The association also plans to continue its work with Penn State University to detail the rise of commercial operators among Airbnb's hosts. It's also considering studies and reports highlighting Airbnb's struggles with discrimination and owed taxes.
According to The Hill, the hotel industry's political action committee HotelPAC spent money in a record 225 congressional races last year, raising $1.5 million and handing out $1.3 million to congressional candidates during the 2016 election cycle.
READ MORE: Examining the State of Airbnb
While the hotel industry has reiterated that its goal is to simply ensure a level playing field, there's no denying Airbnb's emergence as a legitimate threat given the response from the industry.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has hinted that the company could soon go public, and Airbnb's value was pegged at more than $30 billion earlier this year. That figure is $11 billion more than Hilton's market capitalization and just $5 billion short of Marriott International's, according to the Times.
The hotel industry has already celebrated sizable victories in some places like New York, but there's been pushback against short-term rental regulation in other places like Miami.
Given how much is at stake and how incredibly prepared the hotel industry appears to be at this point, it's clear Airbnb is in for a battle.