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Airbnb vs. hotels: cost of cancelling in DC 'fundamentally different'

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Rachel Rhodes

Airbnb announced today that it will cancel all reservations in Washington, D.C. in advance of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, in the wake of the Jan. 6 armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 


David Sherwyn

Professor of Hospitality Human Resources

David Sherwyn, professor of hospitality human resources and law, is the director of the Cornell University Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor & Employment Relations. Sherwyn says the Airbnb cancellations in D.C. put the differences between rental platforms and hotels in stark relief.

Sherwyn says:

“Airbnb is fundamentally different than a hotel in that they are simply a platform, they are not public spaces, they do not have employees, and they do not have the type of debt service that a hotel has. In addition, they do not have security at their properties and they insure their providers so the potential costs are huge. 

“In D.C., providers who do not share their home, but instead rent the entire home are limited to a certain number of days per year. The cost to Airbnb is some lost revenue and risk reduction. The cost to hotels are their place in the economy, their employees compensation (tipped employees, housekeepers, etc.), and their duty to their guests who need to be in town.”

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