While Airbnb has existed in other places for some time, it has really come on strong in Alaska this year. The number of places selling lodging in our Mat-Su Valley has nearly doubled, with a large influx of rooms and homes for rent on Airbnb! These new additions to our local selection of places to stay seem invitingly inexpensive. Having been the past president of the Bed and Breakfast Association of Alaska as well as of our Alaska’s Mat-Su B&B Association, I’ve learned more about the lodging industry ins-and-outs like laws, ordinances, and rules that are in place for guest safety and protections. I’d like to pass along a couple of cautions to this summer’s visitors.
While Alaska as a whole is not as rule-bound as other longer-established states and countries as a whole, there are several common-sense rules in place regarding fire safety, carbon monoxide detection, egress from buildings, and protections for money spent such as truth-in-advertising standards. Currently, none of these are applied to Airbnb or Craigslisted rooms or homes for rent. Guests are “on their own” to see if there is an escape route from their room, in case of fire, or if there is a fire extinguisher, in case a fire breaks out or even posted instructions of how to reach emergency responders.
In earlier years, bed and breakfasts around the state banded together to make Alaska’s umbrella of a state B&B association and our local B&B associations, so guests could have a level of comfort around expectations of safety and what they were buying for their money. We are inspected to make sure we have proper fire detection and means to escape, and that what we are selling is truthful (such as not using “view” photos of Denali, if Denali can’t be seen from our particular B&B), among many other considerations on our standards and ethics review forms.
Beyond these foundational concerns of life-and-safety or if you have accurate knowledge of what you just booked, there’s an unlevel playing field in this “sharing economy.” It’s not so much “sharing” as “reduced.” Most of these entities offering rooms or houses for rent have not gotten their state, local, and city business licenses, nor have many applied to report and collect their proper bed tax charges. Do they offer you the protection of having liability and property insurance? If not, instantly, this makes them thousands of dollars cheaper a year to “run” than legit lodging businesses. And too, there are savings for them right off the bat, because only a rare few have sought to join any of our associations which ask members to meet or exceed these sets of standards for guest safety, comfort, and expectations. These are just the obvious examples that explain why these “sharing economy” places can offer lodging for a fraction of what it costs for those of us running full-time B&Bs in a professional manner, with your safety and comfort as our main concern.
Nearly 20 years ago, our B&B Associations were working hard to improve guests’ experiences in a place where many of our small B&B owners didn’t really know how to run a lodging operation. Now, with Alaska’s guests being more well-traveled and with higher expectations than ever, it doesn’t really seem like a good idea to gamble on whether these newer types of lodging locations are looking out for your safety and financial deal with what they’re offering, if they are not even willing to take responsibility as a business at the state and local levels.
While this link to a YouTube video applies more to a big-city condo Airbnb property, it’s a funny rundown of some things to consider next time it seems enticing to pay very little for a place to lay your head! Check out comedian Adam Ruins Everything in https://www.youtube.com/
We’re expecting biggest-ever numbers of tourists coming to Alaska for Summer 2018, so it’s important that you give thought to where you want to stay during your time in Alaska, while you still have the best selection of choices open to you. We want to be sure you reserve one of our quality rooms, apartments or cottages now, before we fill up, and we want you to know what you’re getting when you book with us! View our accommodations here.
“Get to know” our B&B! We have made a professional-quality video that shows off our views, cottages, property, and buffet breakfast offerings. We’ve also just posted a map of how our cottages and buildings are spread out on our acreage, as well as an illustrated view of how our cottages face the mighty Pioneer Peak and Knik Glacier in our viewshed. We a killer view from our position upon a “bluff” because it’s a terminal lateral moraine, left behind by previous glaciers. I’m also happy to talk with any potential guests if you have any questions about our B&B or need more information as you try to distinguish between your lodging choices. Feel free to give me a call at (907) 746-2333.