Airbnb Inc. felt the wrath of France’s hoteliers after a deal for customer referrals with the country’s most-visited travel-booking website was killed amid pressure from unions.
The home-rental website’s partnership with Voyages-SNCF.com, a unit of France’s national rail monopoly, was pulled on Tuesday — the day it had been slated to be unveiled. By referring customers to San Francisco-based Airbnb through its booking website, Voyages-SNCF would have added to the challenge faced by hoteliers in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris that led to a drop in tourist reservations, their unions said.
“It’s unacceptable that a public company associates with a global private company without consulting us,” said Roland Heguy, head of UMIH, which claims to represent 85 percent of French hoteliers. “They know it’s been tough for us since last month’s attacks — this is unfair competition.”
A total of 130 people died in Paris after three teams of men linked to the Islamic State blew themselves up outside a stadium, fired at restaurant and cafe goers, and shot members of the audience at the Bataclan concert hall on Nov. 13. Hotel chain owner Accor SA has said it expects a “real economic impact” in Paris with a dip in demand likely to last between two and four months.
“We’ve decided to halt this operation because of the incomprehension it has caused,” Voyages-SNCF said in a statement. “We’ll take the time necessary to discuss with the professionals of the hotel industry.”
Voyages-SNCF had 6.6 million French unique visitors in October, compared to about 1.2 million for Airbnb’s website, according to audience-polling agency Mediametrie.
“It’s a pity hotel lobbies are opposing a partnership that would benefit travelers,” Sarah Roy, a representative for Airbnb, said in an e-mailed statement. “We’re committed to developing tourism across France — that’s a goal all the sector’s companies should share.”