The Big Easy, one of the nation’s fastest growing short-term rental destinations, has benefited from peer-to-peer rental innovation in a big way over the last decade. Travelers have gained new accommodation alternatives, communities have seen job growth and higher levels of direct spending, and families have been able to transform empty housing stock into a few extra dollars, or maybe a mortgage payment.

However, despite the benefits and booming popularity of these platforms, calls from large chain hotels and their trade association have led to discussions about how local governments can effectively regulate short-term rentals. If done properly, regulations can ensure that such rentals continue to be a boon for the New Orleans economy while also ensuring that providers, travelers and small businesses throughout the city continue to see all of the benefits of short-term rentals.

So, how can we ensure that New Orleans continues to lead the way in short-term rental policy? There are a few simple steps municipal leaders can take to ensure smart regulations come out of City Hall.

First, all stakeholders, including homeowners, property managers, hosts, community members and government officials, must have an equal seat at the table when crafting new rules. Second, an unbiased system must be created that legalizes all short-term rental types while setting out a transparent, affordable and simple framework for operators to register their property and remit applicable local taxes. In the worst case, improperly regulating short-term rentals could cause travelers to view New Orleans, with fewer choices for their stay, as a less viable destination.

When vacationers choose traditional accommodations, they are much more likely to patronize businesses that are situated on hotel properties or in nearby traveler hot spots. The burgeoning short-term rental marketplace is changing this paradigm. The Short Term Rental Advocacy Center reports that the average short-term rental guest stays longer in neighborhoods and spends more than twice the amount of travelers choosing to stay in hotels. They want to live like a local.

People visit New Orleans for different reasons; some come for the music, some the food, others festivals, sporting events or conferences, but all come for the unique Big Easy experience. For many travelers unique, local short-term rentals have become a fundamental part of this experience.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that New Orleans take a role in creating simple, effective short-term rental regulations so that everyone can continue to laissez les bons temps rouler.

Stephen Shur

president, The Travel Technology Association

Washington, D.C.