One of the more powerful factors at play as the internet infects our lives is a process known as disintermediation, the cutting out of middlemen.
This is great if you’re a source creator, or consumer, but not at all welcome if you’re one of the middlemen.
The Canberra Times has a story today on squealing from the Australian Hotels Association as the citizenry cut them out of the loop putting houses and rooms up for short term rental on the internet.
Australian Hotels Association ACT branch general manager Gwyn Rees said the internet was fuelling a market for short-term accommodation in the ACT.
He said these operators had a competitive advantage over “legitimate” accommodation providers because they were classified differently under the Building Code of Australia and did not have comply with the same standards for security, fire safety and disability access. He said they also gained a competitive advantage by only paying domestic rates on utilities.
“[We] are not concerned about fair and robust competition between legitimate operators,” he said.
“However, people who on-sell these rooms have the very real potential to cause harm on a number of levels and undermine the high standards set by the accommodation and tourism industry.”
He said apartments and spare rooms that were rented out on a short-term basis created security and amenity issues for surrounding neighbours.
“There is also a risk to permanent residents and owners from fire, floor or other damage caused by the occupants of one of these apartments. A property insured for domestic purposes would not be covered for damage if used for short-term accommodation.”
Rather than trying to compete they’re hoping to lobby for regulatory change to favour them.
It sounds as if, for now, the Government is not amenable to this line of thinking.