Despite a powerful political lobby that has persuaded Amsterdam City Council to enforce the harshest rules against vacation rentals in any developed and allegedly free nation, the Dutch hotel industry is still finding it frustrating to deal with the concepts of competition, consumer choice and private property rights.
According to research by notoriously fraudulent accounting giant KPMG (their slogan is Cutting Through Complexity and, judging by their track record, they certainly do cut through the complexity of laws, rules and regulations), 40% of hotel owners feel they are suffering due to the existence of websites, such as Airbnb and AmsterdamEscape, which allow private property owners to rent out houses, apartments, houseboats and rooms to tourists.
Over the past few decades, Amsterdam hotels have enjoyed a near-monopoly thanks to the suspiciously convenient planning regulations which have made it all but impossible for new hotels to open in central locations. Amsterdam hotel owners famously abused that privileged position to offer some of the worst value and rudest service this side of the Iron Curtain.
This meant that, as soon as an alternative was possible, the public flocked to it: AmsterdamEscape, which launched in 2000, was actually the first website to offer online booking for Amsterdam vacation rentals and they have spent the past fifteen years listening to guests tell them how glad their are to have escaped the grip of the hotel industry.
KPMG reports that hotels in the 3-star and lower segment seem to be worst-hit by this crisis of competition, with occupancy levels continuing to fall each year as visitors increasingly realize that they dont have to stay in hotels that smell and resemble a Somalian brothel, that they can, instead, stay in comfortable, clean, modern apartments proudly owned and managed by regular citizens.
Hotel owners are also increasingly worried that competition will affect the high-end of their business.
Its not only students, exclaimed Ren Bornemann, the general manager of hotel The Dylan in Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht, Our target market, the better-paying tourist, now seems to have discovered these websites too our bookings for July and August fell compared to previous years. This is unfair competition if these property owners are not abiding by the rules, because we ourselves have to abide by all kinds of rules!
It is worth pointing out that the most recent rules applied to vacation rental properties include a special tax and the astonishing restriction that each property can only be rented out for a total of 60 nights per year. It would be fascinating to see how Ren Bornemann and other members of the Amsterdam hotel cartel would react to the suggestion that they shut down their business for ten months every year.
Asked for a response, AmsterdamEscape general manager Robbie Monroe stated We would like to beatRen Bornemann with a stick. A stick covered in his own shit.