Dear Journalists, please learn the difference between an Airbnb and a REAL B&B

Yes, this is a bit of a rant and I won’t apologize for it because this makes me quite angry, actually, it totally fries me. I work with REAL B&Bs, and yes we do encourage B&Bs to list on Airbnb, know and utilize thy frenemy so to speak. It takes less of a commission then the OTAs (, Expedia, etc.) among other things. A REAL B&B is one that is licensed, insured and yes inspected (at least in the US) to serve breakfast, many having to take Servsafe Courses as well as having many other business licenses to operate as a legitimate business.

I have a Google alert set up for Bed and Breakfasts daily for new Bed and Breakfasts opening, B&Bs in the news, new ideas on specials and packages that I can suggest to other B&Bs, B&Bs closing, a write up about them and other things B&B related. Pretty much every damn day in my alerts, I get at least one “New B&B opening in XXX”, “Bed and Breakfast offers Unique Package to Visitors”, “Bed and Breakfast Burns to the Ground, people barely escape,” “B&B fights new zoning rules”, “Man dies at B&B when using swing, branch falls and kills him,” “Kitten B&B open in New Jersey” and on and on. I have to admit that the last one was super cute but I digress. All of these headlines are NOT about REAL B&Bs, they are about Airbnbs, which many journalists synonymously interchange these words throughout the articles as if it were the same thing.

I have nothing personally against Airbnb or the average person running a small-scale Airbnb, but the industry I work with, REAL B&Bs, are most definitely affected by it. I know way too many B&Bs that have gone out of business because they can’t compete with market and lodging saturation from local Airbnbs.

Why would someone stay at a REAL B&B if they can stay at an Airbnb for cheaper? AH HA, So they think anyway. If one adds up the costs of staying at an Airbnb, plus Airbnb fees, plus cleaning fees, it is generally comparable to what the local B&B costs for the same type of room, but a real B&Bs costs already include those cleaning fees and amenities built-in, plus you get breakfast. AND if you break a leg going down those pocket stairs in the back, they do have liability insurance to cover it (Unlike most Airbnbs).

Not even going there about Airbnbs serving food, aside from the fact that you go to an Airbnb and get deathly ill, do you think their insurance will cover it? Probably not. Enough said (for now). From a long history of food service on my end, I’d get up in arms if a local place opened up its door and called itself a café, but had no inspections, no visits from “the Man”, no legal venue to serve food at. I’d have a cow.

Grandma renting out her spare room because she needs to supplement her Social Security, good for her! Parents renting out their son’s room to help pay off college tuition, I get it! Landlords taking whole rental properties off the regular housing market, in Seattle for instance, I found one apartment building with over 50 units, all renting them out on Airbnb. No, definitely no! For those out there that think Airbnb is the next best thing after sliced bread, ever have a discussion with someone looking for a long-term house rental in New Orleans or Toronto? Please do! It’s very enlightening.

I could go on about the unfairness of REAL B&Bs having to pay all of the things that a regular business has to pay, regular taxes, inspection fees, liability insurance, advertising, having to pay for business taxes including a an actual website to advertise, commissions to the OTAs, ridiculous website accessibility lawsuits, etc, but that’s not the point, it’s that many journalists are helping blur the line and spread the misconception that an Airbnb is the same exact thing as a REAL B&B.

It springs to mind a conversation I had with a friend fairly recently, she had just come back from traveling to the Hudson Valley in New York state. “Oh we stayed at this lovely Bed and Breakfast in the Upper Valley! It was so cute, the lady had a couple of small children who were really sweet and she made this fantastic sausage frittata for us the day we left”. “Which B&B?” I asked, as I know many of them there but none sprang to mind where the innkeeper’s small children were underfoot. “Oh I don’t know, she didn’t have a name, we found her on Airbnb.” It was (after looking it up because I was curious) an actual Airbnb, not a B&B, but my friend didn’t know it wasn’t the same thing, we had a rather lengthy conversation after that about the differences.

Ironically she went on to say that as they were driving back to Pennsylvania, both she and her husband got quite sick in the afternoon (remember that frittata?), she blamed it on the restaurant they ate at the night before. On average food poisoning takes two to six hours to affect someone and while eating contaminated food occasionally can take a few days to affect someone, I’d venture to guess it wasn’t the restaurant food that got her and her hubbie both having to make pit stops every ½ hour on the way home, a 5 hour trip, apparently it was not a fun drive back, can’t imagine why. No comment from the peanut gallery on that one because nothing is needed……..

And people wonder why there is so much confusion about is it an Airbnb or a REAL B&B, journalists are not helping. I am not going to cry fake news, because it’s not fake, it’s uneducated. I’ve had over a dozen conversations with journalists doing articles in the past year about B&Bs, the state of the industry and other topics, and to almost every one of them I had to explain the difference between an Airbnb and a REAL actually living and breathing B&B, and it’s sad that it takes that to have to open their eyes. For those that think I have a hard on for Airbnb, please re-read the 6th paragraph down, I don’t but I do have an issue with them not being differentiated from REAL B&Bs, and for large landlords making money at the expensive of people in tight housing markets.

Please, dear Journalists, read up on the difference between an Airbnb and a REAL B&B, talk to some Airbnbs and REAL B&Bs and educate yourself on the difference so you can help educate others, look into some of the state and regional B&B associations many of which have inspection and other standards for their members, confusing the masses is quite frankly not helping anyone and it’s certainly not helping innkeepers who can actually claim the title of innkeeper legally. ☹