Sympathy for the Devil

Disruptive technology is, by definition, disruptive. It hurts the (typically) big businesses intrenched in an industry. These businesses often turn to legislation and PR to fight back, rather than innovate. Uber, AirBNB and other crowd based digital systems are some of the big players in this fight against the system.

In a recent article, the Hotel Association of New York City released a report from HVS Global Hospitality Services that put Airbnb’s share of local demand at nearly 8%, and its share of revenue at 4.6%, or a “direct loss” to the hotel industry of $451 million from September 2014 to August 2015.

It’s pretty hard to sympathize with the NYC hotel industry. In 2013 the NYC hotel occupancy rate was 89.5% and the average daily rate was $290 (source). In the parlance of hotels, they are booked. They are operating at capacity. Complaining in a way that implies they are losing business only makes them seem more predatory. NYC officials seem to be entirely on the side of the Hotel Association, as described in this PBS News Hour interview:

According to a report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last year, nearly three-quarters of Airbnb’s listings between 2010 and 2014 were essentially ‘illegal hotels’– short term rentals that violate state and city laws against renting out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the occupants are also present.

You’ll see similar fights, particularly in places like NYC, between cab companies and drivers and Uber. Regulations on taxis exist for good reasons, to protect passengers and prevent the streets from being even more crowded (you can read all about this from the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA)), but the result is we have taxi drivers that treat people poorly, discriminate, and aren’t available when needed.

But when there’s a battle between an upstart and a big, wealthy dominating force, it’s difficult for people to see the side of the powerful organizations and businesses that haven’t been listening to them for all these years. Not easy to have sympathy for the Devil.


developer, writer, speaker

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: