Reuters reports that Airbnb has launched a pilot program in the Bay Area, letting users set up dinners for paying strangers inside their homes.
Similar to the home-sharing business, the hosts would charge whatever they want for the meals, with Airbnb getting a cut.
It’s certainly an intriguing idea, though one has to wonder how big Airbnb can get with this program before local health departments get involved.
Airbnb is already under the microscope in some markets — most notably San Francisco and New York City — where hotel operators claim Airbnb home-letters have an unfair advantage over heavily regulated hotels, and where some residents complain about the steady stream of guests staying at homes rented via Airbnb.
While most people won’t take too much of an issue with someone holding the occasional dinner party, we have to imagine that restaurants and catering services who have to deal with the oversight of health department regulators will not be pleased if Airbnb hosts are able to turn their dining rooms into de facto restaurants without facing the same scrutiny.