Staffers working for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina needed a place to stay while staying in Austin, Texas for the SXSW media and music festival. Hotels are often filled up with guests during the festival, making a place to stay difficult to find. Fortunately, there was a helpful service that connects homeowners with people willing to pay money to stay in their home. In a transaction that benefited both parties, the Raleigh staffers chose to stay at an Airbnb.
Too bad no one can do that in Raleigh itself.
Airbnb (and other short-term rental services) is banned in Raleigh. Cities across the country have either banned or severely restricted short-term rentals in response to a campaign by the hotel industry to hamper the growth of short-term rental services such as Airbnb and HomeAway. This is despite the fact that hotels have continued to see record profits in recent years.
Research has shown that the times consumers benefit most from the availability of Airbnb is during surges of visitors for special events, such as SXSW. Rather than being subjected to the whims of the hotel industry, visitors have another option. The hotel industry doesn’t like that.
Raleigh should eliminate its short-term rental ban and allow competition in the vacation sphere. It would be in keeping with the reason its staffers went to SXSW in the first place: to promote Raleigh as a “tech hub.” After all, it’s hard to be a tech hub when you restrict the benefits of technology as a favor to an entrenched industry.