The traditional hotel industry and short-term rental sites such as Airbnb are fighting over regulation by flooding state elections with cash and lobbying.
At least 60 bills aiming to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental sites have landed in 23 state legislatures in the 2015 session, many of them pushed by the traditional lodging industry that seeks to level the regulatory playing field.
Executives, corporations and trade groups representing the hotel and lodging industry donated at least $11 million to candidates and national groups active in state-level elections in 2014.
Airbnb, its executives and top venture capital funders donated at least $920,000 to candidates and outside groups for 2014 state-level elections, with at least $189,000 going to races in its home state, California.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association, a century-old trade group that represents hotels and inns, has state-level affiliates registered to lobby in at least 42 states, while Airbnb and its trade group, The Travel Technology Association, have lobbyists registered in at least 22 states.
Both the hotel industry and Airbnb have employed public relations tactics to create faux “grassroots” campaigns to influence public opinion and lawmakers in the jurisdictions where short-term rentals have become contentious.