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Qantas criticised for $11 million Airbnb global partnership

Airbnb and Qantas partnership announcement. Photo James Horan

Qantas and Airbnb have launched a major partnership where Qantas Frequent Flyer members have the opportunity to earn Qantas Points when they book their Airbnb accommodation through the airline’s website.

Australia’s national carrier and the accommodation leader say they have partnered to reward Qantas Frequent Flyer’s 11.4 million members with one Qantas Point for every dollar they spend on any of Airbnb’s 2.5 million accommodation listings across 191 countries.

The AUD$11 million partnership is the first time Airbnb has worked with an airline in this way to reward Frequent Flyer members when booking accommodation through the airline’s website and Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, says it is the the next step in the company’s partnerships with innovative digital and technology businesses.

Alan Joyce Qantas

Joyce said it was a natural fit for two global brands with a track record of wanting customers to feel at home when they travel as well as using technology to create great experiences for their customers.

“The way that people around the world plan, book and experience travel is changing rapidly with the digital revolution,” he said.

“We know many of our customers are just as likely to arrange an Airbnb as they are to book a hotel, and we wanted to recognise and reward them for that.

“From creating Business class in the 1970s to introducing mobile technology to transform the check-in process in recent years, Qantas has always looked for ways to reinvent airline travel – just like Airbnb has done for accommodation. We’re really excited about the potential for this partnership,” Joyce said.

Qantas staff new uniform

Airbnb CEO and co-founder, Brian Chesky, said the number one reason people travel on Airbnb is because they “want to feel like they truly live in their destination, even if it’s just for a night”.

“Our announcement today with Qantas highlights the rapidly growing movement towards the personalised and unique experiences available through the Airbnb community,” he said.

“People around the world are experiencing a different way to travel through Airbnb. We’re focused on connecting people with the hospitality of locals, welcoming travellers into their communities so they can truly belong anywhere. There are just a handful of global brands who understand that travel is now changing for the better. Qantas is one of those brands.”

The partnership has, however, come under fire from Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), with the association’s CEO, Carol Giuseppi, saying the move is a “slap in the face” for the airline’s traditional hotel partners.

“While we respect the right of airlines to make commercial agreements with various organisations, Qantas should understand the importance of working with partners who fully support and contribute to the tourism industry and meet all their regulatory requirements,” she said.

“Around the world cities and countries are moving towards greater regulation of businesses such as Airbnb because they are operating in the commercial space without meeting the same regulatory requirements that legitimate hotels, motels, service apartment and B&B operators have to meet.

“These unregulated short-term accommodation operators do not have in place the consumer safety and community amenity regulations and insurances that apply to regulated operators, nor do they pay the requisite fees and taxes. This is why so many overseas jurisdictions are regulating to prevent even more non-resident apartments and houses being taken off the long-term rental market and sold as unregulated short-term accommodation.

“These online operators have morphed from their original idea of providing ‘share’ accommodation to becoming fully fledged commercial property operations where no sharing is involved. That’s the case in Sydney and Melbourne, where ‘Inside Airbnb’ has estimated that up to 61% of listings are for entire homes or apartments. If these businesses want to operate in the commercial short-term accommodation market then they need to abide by the regulations of other commercial operators.

“Until that is the case, we call on tourism operators like Qantas to only deal with legitimate accommodation partners who adhere to the same regulatory framework as they do,” Giuseppi said.



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