The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
In relation to AirBnb, I do not believe they should be treated as traditional hotels under any legal obligation. Generally speaking it's not much different than having a timeshare and letting someone borrow it for a week or something. The same is true of other sharing services like FlightCar where I can rent my vehicle out to someone while I am away. It's convenient, affordable and competitive to the entrenched monopoly conglomerates operating in the space today. I actively seek out such sharing services when I travel as I prefer to have a "local" experience where I'm staying in a neighborhood, and driving with local plates. It helps me explore, and I love it. I already pay sales or service taxes on these solutions and don't feel it prudent to hold them to the standards of hotels which service potentially hundreds of individuals at a time. I have used such services when travelling abroad and find them a much better fit for my lifestyle than traditional hotels. Now, insofar as concerns over consumer protections and the like, these services often have a higher regard for consumer safety and data security than "tradition" services in their fields. Part of this is because of the technology oriented cultures their companies are formed in combined with the relatively young age of the companies such that they have fewer hurdles with legacy technologies (mainframes, AS400, etc.) they would have to work around. These services also have been offering insurance coverage for both the seller and buyer (owner, renter?) for a significant amount of time, at fair cost to either/both. When "sharing" my own property/vehicle I have found the renters hold more concern over the value of my property than I have seen with people at hotels or traditional car rental companies.