[Alvin Brickman for Metrosetter Wire]
Due to lax enforcement of existing laws against short-term rentals, the owner of a Bed & Breakfast and president of the Profesional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans has refocused his strategy on (1) appealing to younger travelers and (2) creating a single tax category for all B&Bs; the former includes a video produced that depicts young people enjoying themselves at traditional inns. It appears that traditional players are starting to realize that change is required in order to maintain relevancy in the future.
“We don’t find we are losing business to them, although I’m sure, eventually, we will,” said Bonnie Rabe, (who owns the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast on St. Charles Avenue and) who is also president of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans (PIANO), which represents 55 B&Bs.
To stem the possible loss of customers to Airbnb.com, PIANO is taking part in the “Better Way to Stay” campaign, which pokes fun at cut-rate travel websites. Its online video shows a traveler arriving at her destination, implying that she booked the room through a questionable website. Opening the door to her accommodations, she finds a partially deflated air mattress on the floor of her room.
The campaign, sponsored by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, is aimed at attracting younger travelers who the group feels opt for the convenience of booking through Airbnb.com over staying at traditional inns.
“We are trying to move people past the idea that we only cater to an older crowd,” said Glen Miller, owner of the HH Whitney House on Esplanade Avenue. “We need to stay competitive because other travel options like Craigslist and Airbnb are not going to disappear.”
Innkeepers in New Orleans have struggled for years to get the city to enforce its laws against short-term rentals. The city will investigate properties that have received multiple complaints, City Hall spokesman Ryan Berni said.
Property owners who violate the city ordinance against short-term rentals face a $500 fine or at least 30 days in jail.
Miller said the city does not have a clear definition of what a bed and breakfast is, which makes it difficult to identify operators who are not compliant.
B&Bs are split into three categories for occupancy tax purposes in New Orleans. A B&B with one or two rooms does not have to pay an occupancy tax, while three- to five-room operations are taxed 50 cents per room per night rented. Six- to nine-room B&Bs pay a 13 percent tax on room rates in addition to the 50-cent per night tax.
PIANO is working with the City Planning Department to include all bed and breakfasts under one tax category.
Here is the video the Professional Innkeepers Association created: