The French Version Of Airbnb Will Crash And Burn

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This is not merely a prediction, this is a cast iron certainty based upon good empirical evidence. The French have decided that it’s just horrible that people should book rooms in apartments in France using an American website. Therefore they’re going to build their own Airbnb.

This reflecting the usual French stupidity about economics of course. What is wanted is that the rooms get rented out, that people turn up to sleep in them and thus spend their money around the country. Who runs the system is an irrelevance, it’s the existence of it which is of economic benefit. But, you know, Frogs since Bastiat seem to have a problem with the basics of the subject.

So:

The success of travel websites such as Airbnb, Tripadvisor and Booking.com has long irritated French ministers worried that the national tourist industry was falling under foreign influence.

Now President Macron’s government has come up with a plan that it hopes will reverse the trend by creating a state-run travel site for tourists wanting to visit France.

While some politicians are pushing for the site, which has been dubbed the French Airbnb,

This will fail and fail dismally of course. For a start, one of the attractions of Airbnb is that it’s not limited to the one country. It’s possible to roam on it, something which increases the audience. There’s also that point about network effects, any France only system will have fewer people on it and thus fewer rentals will result, driving traffic down again and so on.

But leaving aside such theory we’ve also empirics:

Some Europeans are concerned about US hegemony in the worldwide information market. Now France — and maybe Germany — aims to develop a Eurocentric alternative to the dominant Internet search engine, Google.

It ended up as being pretty much just France.

“We must take up the challenge presented by American giants like Google and Yahoo. There is a the threat that tomorrow, what is not available online will be invisible to the world,” Chirac said in a presidential address to the nation at New Year’s.

His project, spurred by the French government and headed by an Internet information company called exalead.com, runs under the name Quaero (Latin for “I seek.”)

€4 billion later that’s pretty much what they ended up with too, a nice speech from Chirac. But, you know, Einstein and insanity, let’s do the same thing again, eh?

Oh, there is also this:

Proponents counter that a French listing site should be set up in the name of social justice, pointing out that the American platform is accused of failing to respect the country’s legislation, of transforming swathes of residential Paris into tourist areas, and of allowing flat owners to escape paying taxes.

Yer average soap dodger, when given the choice between two platforms to rent out his spare room, has one that insists he pay all taxes, another that allows him to dodge them. Which one gets the listing?

Crash and burn might be too passive for the flaming arc of this business idea.

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John B
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John B

But… there already is a French Government run booking service. Gîtes-de-France which predates the Internet but certainly now has a Web-site via which holiday rentals, B&B, camp sites can be booked.

jgh
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jgh

It’s a free world. If they want to set up a room booking website, there’s nothing stopping them.

Nick Luke
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Nick Luke

Surely a ‘tourist industry’ is all about foreign influence, innnit?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

There’s a deep-seated French reserve about giving the government any information about their financial affairs.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

Even if they build it, they’ll never keep up. Internet applications and apps do a whole lot of idea -> small rollout -> measure -> full rollout. New features are being constantly added, even features you don’t see. Sometimes, an experiment reveals untapped seams of wealth. Things get turned around in weeks. Some government agency is never going to turn something around in weeks. Why is France even bothering? All this stuff works. People come to the country, visit a few sites, dine out. As a country, they’re pretty good at running their tourist sites, unlike the UK, which has… Read more »

Tristram Fuller
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Tristram Fuller

Minitel anyone?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Particularly Minitel Rose.