I remember after a decade of having access to the internet thinking, “how did we ever live without the internet?” I suppose most if not all technological improvements leave us thinking the same way and so it is with the development of the short-term rental market.

While others preceded it, Airbnb has become the moniker for short-term rentals. And believe or not, Airbnb has only been around for a dozen years. But what has transpired over these dozen years has dramatically changed the lodging world. Some would say the change is the worst thing that has happened to the lodging industry, while others will say it’s the best thing. For destination marketing organizations, and other industry trade organizations, this same best-worst conundrum exists.

Lane County faces compression in the lodging market during large community events and therefore the existence of short-term rentals provides another option for visitors to the region. Some visitors find value in using a lodging choice that better meets their needs and yet the unregulated short-term environment, which has fostered enormous growth, is causing municipalities to take a closer look at how best to manage this growing market.

I had a chance to catch up with Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) President/CEO Jason Brandt to discuss the topic. ORLA is an industry organization representing over 2,600 restaurants and lodging establishments throughout Oregon. Like Travel Lane County, ORLA has members on both sides of the short-term rental debate. View my interview with Jason below.

Jason points out several takeaways, including:

1) Short-term rentals are a key and welcome part of the industry. 

2) As a part of the industry, short-term rentals and all lodging needs to play on a level field. That includes paying all lodging taxes and ensuring safety for guests.

3) it will be up to each community to determine how best to regulate the market in their area.

4) HB4120 mandated that lodging taxes be paid through the intermediary platforms.

Industry concerns have given way to community concerns, with the impact of housing stock being used for short-term rentals and the impact of those rentals on the livability of neighborhoods. Cities around the world have swung the pendulum far from the unregulated environment of the past to an environment of strict regulation. We don’t have to look any further than the City of Eugene to see how a move toward regulation is unfolding. The Eugene city council has passed a motion directing staff to bring back code language that may dramatically change the short-term rental market in Eugene. View the staff presentation or the recording of the council discussion to learn more and watch for the draft code language to come back to council in early December.  

We live in a world that is ever-changing and evolving. Just like looking back on the evolution of the internet, it won’t surprise me look back at this topic and many others and wonder, “how did we live without that?"