As an owner of hotels throughout Oregon and the northwestern United States — including here in Wilsonville, where I also reside — the timely topic of Airbnb and other short-term online rental properties is of huge concern to me.

I’m sure many of you search for vacation rental properties or homes as alternatives for your own leisure or business travel. This alternative option in the world of hotel accommodations is here to stay, but I am concerned about the safety, security and experience of guests.

I am chairman of the IHG Owners Association, the organization that represents thousands of owners of IHG hotels such as Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental Hotels around the world. Contrary to Airbnb, as a traditional hotel company, we operate with a multitude of safety regulations, internal controls, processes and procedures designed to protect our guests, and rightly so, because they are at the heart of everything we do. In addition, we are affiliated with brands and required to meet or go beyond standards and criteria that’s expected of us in order to minimize risks for guests.

Airbnb currently operates without any such controls or brand standards. Nor do they adhere to the same health, cleanliness and safety regulations as our hotels. Additionally, Airbnb does not collect or remit occupancy taxes the way hotels do; money that goes to maintaining the tourism infrastructure and marketing of destinations to consumers.

The hotel industry has always been competitive and we welcome Airbnb and other non-traditional lodging choices. But what further concerns our owners is that the rise of Airbnb, with its business practices, does not represent a fair playing field. Don’t hotel guests deserve a level playing field when it comes to issues such as fire and life safety, security and cleanliness?

A number of other hotel organizations, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and Bed and Breakfast Association, have expressed concern regarding companies such as Airbnb, and the safety and security of the traveling public.

I, too, am very concerned for our guests, who know that a night in a Holiday Inn will be restful, comfortable and safe, but may not get that same experience at an Airbnb.

Bakulesh Patel lives in Wilsonville. He is president of BHG Hotels and chairman of the IHG Owners Association, which represents owners of thousands of IHG-branded hotels around the world.

Contract Publishing

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