The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00358

Submission Number:
Claire Pluard
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Dear Commission, I wanted to share my experience as an Air Bnb host and guest as it pertains to your discussion of shared economy. I have been using Air Bnb as a means of travel for 3 years now, it proved effective, affordable, safe, and ultimately very enriching. As a shared experience, Air Bnb contributes to the community feel and accessibility of many of the large American hub cities and smaller communities. It lets tourists both contribute to smaller local businesses and to the larger tourist destinations, spreading the tourist income through a greater variety of locations in a city and helping the economy as a whole. More recently, I decided to host for AirBnb. I live centrally to the major metropolitan area of Chicago, surrounded by college campuses, hospitals, museums, restaurants, and many small businesses. There is only one hotel in my area and it is exorbitantly expensive, $200+/night. I am in my mid-twenties and writing government grants at a non-profit, there is no way I could afford to stay at that hotel or any of the other downtown hotels and neither can most of my guests. I have hosted individuals from ages 22-70 at my home, from all over the US, Canada, South America, and Europe. And this is only in the few short months I have been hosting! We share a bathroom and the common space and they have their own room. Through Air Bnb I can check their verified identity, see if they have other reviews, and message with each group before I approve them to stay in my home. I want to ensure that each person who comes is a safe, good choice and thus far, I have not been disappointed by the AirBnb system. These guests come sometimes to tour, sometimes for conferences or school, and sometimes to visit friends and family. All who stay here have used public transport, gone to tourist destinations and restaurants, and contributed to the local economy significantly. By staying with me, I can offer them tips and make my city an extra welcoming place for them, encouraging more people to come and visit! It a cycle that benefits everyone as it opens travel and makes it a more egalitarian experience. While hotels may claim that we are taking their revenue, I actually believe that most of these individuals would not be traveling if not for the more affordable option. On the other hand, serving as an Air Bnb host is supplementing my income. I am very conservative with saying this, I assume that about 40% will be taken for income tax, and that these earning will then decrease my tax refund. Even with these calculations, Air Bnb is supplementing my measly income; it allows me to live centrally in a good quality apartment that I would not be able to afford otherwise on my salary. Generally, I would be considered housing in-stable as I pay more than 30% of my income to housing costs. But Air Bnb allows me to break this barrier for the first time since graduating from college. There are not many opportunities to supplement your income without working a second job (which is almost impossible since I work 55+ hours at my first), and doing something like Air Bnb which is overall, such a positive, uplifting community experience is truly invaluable. I support regulation of the blossoming shared economies but hope that they are encourage to continue, as they are changing the face of US hospitality and community for the better, opening our borders and making it a system that can truly serve more types of individuals. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [REDACTED]. Thanks, Claire Pluard