International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has agreed that 2024 host city Paris should have free rein to regulate TOP sponsor Airbnb in accordance with its own laws.
Bach was responding to a letter from the major or Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who warned of the “risks and consequences” of the recently-signed Worldwide Partner deal with the online accommodation platform.
Hidalgo had said that Airbnb will face tough regulations in Paris because of its impact on the city’s rental market. She also accused the brand of “destabilising local businesses and competing harshly with traditional hotels”.
Bach said he has written back to the mayor confirming that all IOC sponsors would abide by local laws.
He remarked: “The situation is clear. We expressed in this letter that of course all our TOP partners are respecting the rules and regulations of the host country and the host city.
“So France and Paris are free to take their legislative steps if they deem this as appropriate. We have explained this agreement is complementary to the offer of accommodation in hotels – the more traditional accommodation. We see it as a great addition.”
Airbnb signed its nine-year Worldwide Partner deal with the IOC in the ‘Unique Accommodation Products and Unique Experiences Services’ category in November.
Under the deal, Airbnb will help provide accommodation for five Olympics and Paralympics events in Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, Milan-Cortina 2028 and Los Angeles 2026.
The move has also drawn opposition from hotel groups in Paris who have threatened to stop cooperating with the Paris 2024 Local Organising Committee in protest at the partnership.
However, according to one sports marketing industry veteran, the deal could actually prove a boon for the hotel industry.
Rob Prazmark, founder and chief executive of 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing Group, has attended 19 Summer and Winter Games.
Prazmark told SportBusiness Sponsorship last month: “I do not believe the Airbnb deal will negatively impact the Paris hotel industry or any city for that matter. In fact, it may have the reverse effect.
“For decades, the hotel industry had to set aside large percentages of inventory during the Olympic period and that inventory had to be based on average pricing from the previous years.
“The hoteliers contended that it was unfair and they should be allowed to control pricing based on a free market basis. Many of them took the position that the Olympic Games period made them lose business from regular customers and the basic principal of price/demand.
“I would argue that with Airbnb’s inventory available, the hotels should be allowed to have greater flexibility in how many rooms are controlled by the Organising Committee and what rate. Paris has four years to figure that out.”