European travel tech companies want fair legislation on short-term rentals

Registration systems and clear legislation are some of the top recommendations from travel tech companies to the EU executive.

1. Short term rental

EU travel tech companies are calling on the European Commission to consider check-in systems, data sharing and a clear definition of short-term rentals (STRs) in its upcoming legislation.

The time has come to establish a harmonized framework to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to collaborate and jointly design solutions to issues affecting local communities, public authorities, STR providers and accommodation booking platforms.

eu travel technology

Representing more than 29% of the tourist accommodation sector in the 27 EU countries, STR is considered essential for the recovery and economic development of the tourist ecosystem following the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK together accounted for 72% of total STR gross bookings, according to eu travel tech. In the same year, more than 554 million nights were spent in the EU in accommodation booked through the four largest online travel platforms.

2. Regulate STRs

Overall, eu travel tech welcomes the Commission’s initiative to revise the regulation of short-term rental services in the EU. The current STR regulatory landscape is characterized by a lack of clarity regarding the rules applicable to STR providers. In addition to this obstacle, the fragmentation between EU countries and even within them has become a burden. Some EU countries have attempted to regulate this new sector through a series of different requirements, such as night caps, registration and authorization regimes, zoning and licensing requirements.

With Booking.com, Skyscanner and Tripadvisor as members, eu travel tech said in a recent statement that it has long advocated for a “harmonised framework introducing clear and proportionate rules on the provision and marketing of STR services”.

STR’s growth is highly dependent on online platforms and their freedom to provide services across the EU. “In our view, such challenges require a regulatory framework that carefully clarifies and balances the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved. […] and which aims to standardize data sharing approaches across Europe, among others,” noted eu travel tech.

Online platforms, owners and public authorities are key players in STR services. Online platforms, in particular, have been at the center of the debate regarding the challenges posed by the rapid spread of SRTs, under the E-Commerce Directive and the Digital Services Act.

3. Data sharing

Eu travel tech argues that the application of registration obligations could help improve data sharing. Since much of the data sought by public authorities relates to STR providers, they should obtain it directly from hosts. Additionally, STR record systems support data exchange and a more regulated environment.

The technology group argues that registration requirements for STR providers are an important part of the solution, allowing authorities to see the big picture of STR activities. This industry call follows the Commission’s intervention to explore legislative measures to improve the framework for short-term accommodation rental services. In September 2021, the EU executive published an impact study on tourism services, in particular on STRs. The Commission is expected to present a proposal by the end of the year. While the Commission is still considering non-legislative options in its roadmap, it noted that the guidelines have not been effective so far and that a regulation would help address the problem of fragmentation.