There has been a lot of discussion lately about Airbnb and some in connection with EAA housing. It seems to be a controversial subject and one I hate to be in the middle of. Unfortunately, being an owner of a bed and breakfast,it is a question I have been asked about a lot lately. This is not a local issue though and has little to do with EAA. Many licensed facilities, and local government agencies around the country are dealing with this subject. Whether you knew about Airbnb before or it is a new term to you, there are some things that you maybe didn’t know. I can tell you that it is not about the competition. I would even love to see another licensed Bed and Breakfast in Oshkosh. EAA housing is a one time annual event, which in my opinion, should not be policed since it is under the 10 day lodging law. It is the homeowner that accepts payment for renting out their sofa, room or even home for a fee throughout the year continuously, that does not hold the permit or license, that is the concern.
Airbnb, for those that are not familiar, is a room or someones home to stay, one to several nights for an amount of money that is determined by the home owner. A percentage of that fee is then returned to Airbnb. They may even call themselves a BnB. You may get a bed, but you may also get a sofa or air mattress. Yes, you do know ahead of time since there is a description, pictures and reviews. Sometimes you may even get breakfast. Donuts, cereal, who knows, somebody may make you breakfast even. They have NOT been inspected for cleanliness or safety and they do NOT pay taxes to run as business.
Airbnb clearly states on their site the legal and regulatory issues that one should look into before deciding to be a “host”. This means registering, getting a permit or obtaining a license before being able to accept guests. They go on to say that each local government varies in how they enforce these laws but that they should be reviewed before listing on their site. Many times, this is like the fine print that few of us may not always read.
You see, bed and breakfasts are just like hotels, restaurants and many other businesses. We have to be licensed, inspected and insured. We also have to pay room, sales and income tax. The majority of the city taxes that are collected, go back into the city for tourism dollars. It has helped make our convention center what it is today and helps bring tourism to Oshkosh, where in turn, money is spent in our restaurants, retail and entertainment sectors.
We have inspections each year to make sure that the fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are working along with making sure that we do not have insects, rodents or that our coolers and refrigerators are clean and cold enough. Our linens are also checked to make sure we are storing them correctly along with outlets and lighting working correctly. These are just a few of the items that we rigorously go through, not only yearly, but on a daily basis to make sure that we, as a business, are not only running legally but also comfortably for those that visit us each and every day. Some people may argue with what is wrong with trying to earn an extra buck or two by renting out a spare room. If you take a look at some of the Airbnb listings, you will notice from some of the reviews that some of these “hosts” are doing quite well with there unlicensed and non tax paying businesses. The Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association(WBBA) is the only quality-certified organization of its kind in the state, which is why we try so hard to let people know the differences between a licensed bed and breakfast and a non-licensed, not tax paying air bnb. There is room for everyone, including Airbnb hosts in Oshkosh that abide by the same rules as other business owners. We have a great city that many want to travel to and stay in. There was a great article on a website today that not only talked about Airbnb, but other such businesses that I thought was an excellent read that made several valid points.
With that being said we just learned that we won the Certificate of Excellence Award from TripAdvisor. This award is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews. Winners are selected from all over the world, with only the top 10 percent receiving this award. We needed to maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months. We are so honored to receive this award and want to say thank you for everyone who has stayed with us this last year and for those that posted reviews. Without guests like yourselves, we would not have been able to achieve this.