The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00290

Submission Number:
Eric Mathiasen
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I've been a host through Airbnb since autumn of 2010, renting a guestroom to travelers visiting Chicago. In that time I've had well over 300 bookings, covering well over 500 individuals in my home for over 1,000 nights. I've very much enjoyed meeting and hosting the vast majority of these guests, and I've used the nearly $80,000 in income they have generated to fund a masters degree from Harvard University, perform necessary home maintenance, and pay for the medical needs of my spouse. I have never felt unsafe, and feel that Airbnb's platform provides reasonable tools for preventing abuse by nefarious parties. The ability to run a light-weight business such as this greatly helps fund necessary improvements both to myself and my home. My guests stay an average of 3.25 nights, and based on speaking with them I estimate they spend an average of about $150 per day per person in the local economy not counting any conference fees paid by those in town for conferences. My guests have ranged from recent high school graduates looking to save money, to physicians simply wishing to avoid a typical hotel, to European journalists, to a filmmaker, to musicians, to food bloggers, to minor professional athletes, to a professional comedian, to a West Point cadet, to a Japanese researcher who had just left when the Japanese tsunami happened, to Korean diplomats in town to see their son graduate from a nearby university. I started being an Airbnb host to raise money for tuition and other costs, but meeting the cross-section of people I have met has greatly enriched my life. The combination of both host and guest reviews, the use of credit cards, and the commonality of advance booking provide a robust protection against malfeasance by either party. Excessive regulation is, in my opinion, unnecessary and puts an undue burden on small operators such as myself. We do currently pay both Federal and State income taxes, and in many cities Airbnb also collects and submits local hospitality taxes to the relevant munincipality. We are tax-paying business owners who support our communities and strive to provide good experiences to our guests. Excessive regulation will not improve the experience for guests, and will squeeze out some of the best hosts who do it for the joy of meeting people and would be turned off from hefty requirements. Thank you, Eric Mathiasen Chicago