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London & Partners could be set for Airbnb link up

Convention bureau understood to have opened talks with shared economy giant to replicate model in San Francisco

Pictured: Tracy Halliwell

London and Partners is in talks with Airbnb to establish a shared economy platform for the capital's meetings and events industry.

The convention bureau's director of major events and business tourism Tracy Halliwell is understood to be exploring London's options, a move that will follow San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau's lead.

San Francisco became the first convention bureau to formally partner with private short term-letting platform Airbnb in July last year, launching a campaign that helps visitors to 'live like a local' and assists meeting organisers achieve peak attendance during city-wide conventions.

Speaking to meetpie during IMEX in Frankfurt, Halliwell said: “We already have 30,000 Airbnb properties in London; (the infrastructure) is already there. A lot of event organisers are looking at that as another option.

“If we could get to the same place in London it would help expand the options even further and I'm keen to explore the possibilities.”

London and Partners is already on board with the shared economy idea, offering a certain number of its office desks to start-up companies looking to expand. The collaboration has seen the likes of MICEBOOK rent out its office space at subsidised rates, also allowing the company tap into the knowledge from staff within the convention bureau.

Halliwell said there was still some room for improvement before Airbnb could be totally relied on by event organisers.

“Airbnb hasn't quite worked out how it will accommodate group housing solutions and I don't see how they will – it’s the group element they haven’t quite cracked. But for single or business travelers it's already there,” she said.

“We just have to be very careful that we balance it with our established hotel market who do spend a lot of time and money on regulations and taxes. We have to be mindful it all works together.”

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