With Europe remaining a vital market for the future of Airbnb, the company is emphasizing its willingness to take a flexible and conciliatory approach with governments concerned about its impact.
During a visit to Paris today for a tour of the Station F startup campus, Airbnb CTO and cofounder Nathan Blecharczyk said he is optimistic about the company’s relationship with its number one city. He said the company wants to find ways to reach amicable settlements and compromises as issues emerge over time.
He pointed to an announcement last week made by Airbnb that it would take charge of using its platform to enforce Paris’ home-sharing rules that allow residents to share their home on Airbnb up to 120 days a year without having to register with the city.
“We continue to work with the city on issues that are important to them,” he said. “This is an example of our willingness to work with cities and customize our approach and take responsibility for our impact.”
The company remains concerned that some officials in Paris are considering a system that would require more Airbnb hosts to register with the city. In its announcement last week, Airbnb officials wrote on their blog:
It is unclear how a registration system would help families share their homes responsibly or address challenges facing Paris. The system would also come at great cost to local taxpayers and boost unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy for everyone — including local families and City Hall.
Still, Airbnb seems to be taking an approach that remains markedly different from its sharing economy sibling, Uber, which has often chosen confrontation when it doesn’t get its way on regulatory matters. Blecharczyk said today that the company understands that as it has grown in size, it’s going to generate some concerns about its economic and social influence.
“I’d say overall globally, we’re able to demonstrate the benefits of Airbnb,” he said. “I would also say that with such success questions get raised. With Paris and France specifically, we’ve had a very good relationship historically.”
That hasn’t been the case further south, in Spain, where Barcelona and Madrid are also some of Airbnb’s largest markets outside the U.S. Last week, Airbnb policy director Chris Lehane was in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, arguing for the benefits of the service. But the company still faces a tough audience with local politicians who would like to see stiffer measures to block the service there.
Still, Blecharczyk sounded more optimistic this week, saying he believes that the company is continuing to seek a compromise that will satisfy all sides.
“Barcelona, it’s been a little bit more of a roller coaster over the past year,” he said. “But we’re having better conversations now.”