New York City split on Airbnb

Despite being one of the more popular apps to have launched over the last few years , Airbnb has seen an uphill battle when trying to win over city officials, customers and their neighbors. In a recent survey conducted by YouGov Omnibus 45% of the people polled, who also had at least some knowledge of the application prior to participating, stated that Airbnb, “is great for New York City.”

The application isn’t alone in it’s constant fight to bring New York City into a more advanced technological future, another application called ‘Uber’, a smartphone-driven car-service and others like-it, have also seen tremendous pushback from unions, City officials, some residents, and industries.

In order to counteract and drive support for the service, Airbnb launched a new PR and marketing campaign with the tagline “New Yorkers agree: Airbnb is great for NYC.”  It’s a bold statement, one that drove YouGov Omnibus to survey  500 people in New York City in order to test the theory.

45% of those who have heard of company agree that “Airbnb is great for New York City,” compared to only 13% who disagreed.  Once the concept had been explained to them even those who hadn’t yet heard of the company generally agreed (40% compared to 12%), that “Airbnb is great for New York City.”

Of those who had heard of Airbnb, 7% have rented out a room on the website and 13% have rented a room from somebody using the website.

New Yorkers seem to have embraced the concept of super-short-term lets:  62%, who had heard of Airbnb, would consider, or would definitely use Airbnb whilst travelling to a new US city, with 55% happy to consider the service for an international trip.  If New Yorkers faced a few days of homelessness between one rental contract and the next, 18% thought that they would definitely use the service and 46% would consider using it.

The following are statements from New Yorkers regarding the impact of Airbnb on NYC:

  • It is a source of supplemental income (42%).
  • It brings more affordable accommodation to tourists who wouldn’t be able to afford NYC (39%).
  • It enables tourists to try out new neighborhoods (42%).

However the flip side is uncertainty about the kinds of people Airbnb may be encouraging into residential buildings:

  • There are no guarantees as to the kind of people who would rent out a room (44%).
  • I don’t want strangers coming into my building if someone is renting their apartment through Airbnb (27%).

As someone who has lived in New York City over the last 10 years, security is always  a concern when choosing a new building to call home. The turnover rate in New York City is high enough that the resident-list of people that currently live in your building often changes from month-to-month and getting to know all of your neighbors is a luxury that many never see.

Personally, I Would like to see buildings establish this practice before you sign your lease, much like they do now with pets, smoking or sublets. I think people should have the right to know if the building allows travelers into the building through services like Airbnb. Others seem to think the benefits outweigh the potential dangers, a battle that is still hashing itself out in the NYC court systems.


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