An Investigation of the Term “Hotelization”

Origin of the word hotelization

[Alvin Brickman for Metrosetter Wire]

Those following the debate around short-term rentals may have noticed a curious term being used to describe “corporate” short-term rentals, namely, the term “hotelization.”  I suppose you could call it a buzzword because, for one thing, it has a rather “urgent” ring to it, and for another, because it’s being used in more than one fashion, which may be having the effect of obscuring what it signifies. So for the purpose of clarity, we’ve attempted to delineate the term’s etymology and current definition for Metrosetter Wire’s readers!

As we reported earlier, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has officially defined “corporate hotelization” as properties owned or leased by businesses who, in turn, rent them out to their employees for periods of less than 30 days.

Just to be clear, corporate hotelization should not be confused with corporate housing.  Corporate housing is known in the real estate industry as housing for stays of 30 days or more and has thus been remitted in the whole short-term rental debate.

But back to hotelization: Interestingly, one of the oldest results in a simple Google search of “hotelization” is dated for August 8, 2001, and is an original court document filed by the Supreme Court of California for a case titled “Golden Gateway Center v. Golden Gateway Tenants Assn.” According to the court document, the term “hotelization” was used in 1996 by the Golden Gateway Tenants Association in literature they were distributing to their apartment building’s permanent residents and in their legal defense from Golden Gateway, defaming all rentals of less than 30 days (not just the “corporate” ones):

“In 1996, shortly after the Tenants Association filed a lawsuit against Golden Gateway opposing ‘hotelization’ of the complex and distributed some leaflets critical of Golden Gateway’s management, Golden Gateway demanded that the Tenants Association cease ‘dissemination of politically based material.’”

In brief, the term “hotelization” originated in literature that was created to disparage converted hotels and, to this day, carries the same negative connotation — only now it’s been made an official category by the city of San Francisco! As Internet technology and search engines like AirBnb become normalized, the term “hotelization” will possibly lose its negative connotation and become absorbed into the popular and legal vernacular in major cities — as long as it doesn’t continue to be used in public discourse with a derogatory intention.

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