The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Being able to offer a short term housing situation or landing spot for people has been crucial for my own living situation. I have gone back to school full time and don't have time for a conventional job at the moment. Being a host for Airbnb IS a job in itself. It entails preparing rooms and bathrooms, washing linens and towels, constant correspondence between potential guests and myself, a whole lot of cleaning, trust, etc. So I definitely consider it a job, but it's one that I can do on my own time. I can control who comes into my house and what dates I can't tend to people, I can screen people (and Airbnb has a lot of security gates to pass through to become a member, both on the host side and on the guest side). Both guests and hosts get rated and critiqued by each other and that goes on our profile so everybody and anybody has access to read what others thought of us, so that encourages being on one's best behavior. Not only that but we self govern our prices and conditions, so the guest knows what he/she is going to get. If they are looking for more plush, they know they will pay more; if they are looking for something basic, they know they can pay less. There is something for everybody. I have lived many years abroad and in so many countries there are lower and middle class families offering up their spare bedrooms to travelers in this same fashion (without the internet portion of it). This model is common sense to me because it then permits people to have an income from this. It's the idea of having surplus and being able to offer it to somebody in need (in this case they will have a monetary surplus and it becomes an exchange). I think it's great that projects like Airbnb are empowering lower and middle class citizens to be able to offer something that we have instead of strictly keeping lodging situations in the hands of corporations or people who have invested in running a lodging business. This is really helping to get me where I need to get (graduate school!) and in the meantime I feel really good to be able to provide travelers a cheap place to stay. It's a win-win.