The very first time Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs, used Airbnb was under the Roman sky. It was 2013, and he was visiting the capital with his family. Italy is a country with which he has a very special bond, since three of his grandparents have Italian origins.
The hospitality of Rome’s hosts marked the beginning of a new chapter for Chris.
Four years later, Chris returned to Rome to meet the vibrant host community, along with representatives from Italy’s political and entrepreneurial sphere. Chris Lehane joined Airbnb in 2015, and has since spearheaded the Home Sharing Club project giving our worldwide community of hosts a voice regarding the public debate on tourism, the sharing economy and hospitality.
Since then, 168 Clubs have launched around the world, actively involved in citizenship projects and advocating for home sharing, helping other communities and promoting local businesses in their neighborhoods.
The meeting came as a result of the Rome Home Sharing Club’s effort to discuss the new tourism law approved by the Lazio Region that will regulate the non-professional sector, acknowledging, for the first time, the right for residents of Rome to share their homes. Along with Chris Lehane, the Lazio Region’s spokesperson, Paolo Giuntarelli, Manager of the Regional Agency for tourism, answered the hosts’ questions about the new regulation that is about to be published.
“The Region recognizes the value of home sharing” – he said to the hosts – “and wants to support those who share one’s own property. At the same time, the Region wants to overcome distortions”.
The law will be the focus of other meetings promoted by the Home Sharing Club but in the meantime, data shows that visitors to Rome have had overwhelmingly positive experiences using Airbnb.
“This happens, Chris said “because they experienced your hospitality, it happens thanks to you and you should be very proud of it. Something magical is happening here: 70 percent of the people using Airbnb come to Rome because their friends came here before them and recommended it. That is why it is essential to work with the institutions, and why evenings like these are so important”. In very recent news, thanks to an agreement with the local Municipality Genoa has become the first Italian city to collect tourist taxes through Airbnb’s platform.
In Rome, there are 14,000 hosts, earning an average of 3,820 EUR a year and sharing their space for an average of 56 days a year. One traveler out of three who books through the platform declares that they would never have come to Rome if it weren’t for Airbnb.
“There is data, but there is also a value that is much more difficult to measure with numbers. Hosts are bringing much value to the city because they communicate it in a very authentic way, by recommending an off the beaten track restaurant, how to best visit that neighborhood, or what to see in their favorite museum. You are not only sharing your homes to the world, but your neighborhood and your city too”.
“Thanks for your passion, your energy and your ideas,” he added.