Airbnb kicks off advocacy campaign ahead of potential legislative morass

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BOSTON — With a policy battle on the Beacon Hill horizon, the short-term rental company Airbnb has launched a TV advocacy campaign framing itself as a boon to local small business, a check against inequality and a reliable source of income for hosts.

The charm offensive comes as legislative leaders appear to be positioning themselves to regulate the short-term rental market, including Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, when the Legislature returns to formal sessions in January. Attempts to craft legislation related to the industry never truly got off the ground this session.

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In a one-minute TV ad, which Airbnb said is part of a “mid-seven figures” ad buy, four Airbnb hosts from greater Boston talk in glowing terms about renting out part or all of their homes to strangers, and how Airbnb impacts the community.

“Airbnb has totally improved my life,” says Sherry, an Airbnb host from Cambridge, in the ad. “I have this little extra bit of money, cash, now.”

Sherry, who is identified in the ad as a teacher, said the additional income she earns through Airbnb allows her to stay in her home amid rising housing costs and growing economic inequality.


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