Airbnb’s City Portal will improve brand image ahead of IPO
Following Airbnb’s recent launch of its City Portal for local governments, industry analysts agreed that an increase in transparency holds the potential for Airbnb to strengthen its relationship with local governments, while also addressing ongoing safety and data sharing concerns that have sometimes portrayed the company negatively.
Flaws in the company’s business model have emerged in recent times, with the lodging provider often featuring in stories about illegal listings, ‘house parties gone wrong’ and rental prices surging for locals. These highly publicized, negative ramifications – directly linked to the growing presence of Airbnb (sometimes erroneously) – need to be actioned before its long-awaited IPO in order to appease hesitant investors.
The aim of the City Portal is to provide municipal staff with more efficient access to data about listings, for example whether or not they adhere to local laws. It delivers on the platform’s long-term goals around sharing data, paying taxes and working with cities on regulation. The delivery of these long-term goals will help to legitimize Airbnb as an ethical company, which coincides well with recent positive performance. This combination of increased transparency and a sustained surge in bookings could lead to a successful IPO.
The day before Airbnb announced its City Portal, Europe’s top court gave its backing to European cities cracking down on short-term rentals of private homes, acting as a major blow for Airbnb. The implementation of the City Portal Program is an ideal response to this ruling and is likely to strengthen the relationship between Airbnb and municipalities. At a time when major cities are struggling to attract tourists, a mutually beneficial partnership with a company as visible and successful as Airbnb may actually help to accelerate recovery.