The question was about Airbnb, and while Woodworth apologized for, as he put it, “hijacking” the discussion, everyone seemed to understand that the peer-to-peer accommodations-listing service was the proverbial elephant in the room. That was true not just at the BLLA event but also at the 37th Annual NYU Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, also held in New York last week. While conference panelists celebrated 57 consecutive months of year-over-year hotel-revenue increases, many bemoaned Airbnb’s impact on hotel-room demand and what they asserted were illegal advantages (via lower costs) that Airbnb unit owners had over hotel owners. Some panelists said many Airbnb hosts were operating illegally because of laws prohibiting short-term rentals in many cities. They also decried what they said was an uneven playing field because most Airbnb unit owners don’t comply with the insurance, fire-safety and disability-access mandates that apply to hotels. “We’re not going to stop them, but they have to be regulated,” said Interstate Hotels CEO and American Hotel & Lodging Association Chair Jim Abrahamson on an NYU conference panel. “Half the inventory of Airbnb is illegal in New York.” Get the full story at Travel Weekly