The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My husband Jer and I have been hosting through Airbnb for over 5 years. We first heard about Airbnb through an ad in Sunset Magazine in 2009. We used it as guests when we traveled to Pittsburgh later that year. We had a lovely experience staying in a Victorian house and being served breakfast with the other guests in a formal dining room. We already had a studio apartment in our own house that we rented to a graduate student from Western Washington University. When he moved out, we decided to try Airbnb in March of 2010. The Adorable Fairhaven Studio Apartment was born. It was an instant success, due to our proximity to Fairhaven and the university. We have hosted more than 300 families, couples and single travelers. We offer them a safe, clean and comfortable spot for the night or week. We provide organic breakfast items like milk, fruit, juice, coffee, tea, and home-baked bread and granola. Our guests come from all over the US and also from Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. While they are here, they walk in to the nearby urban village of Fairhaven and have dinner, walk along the beach, buy a book, a souvenir. And they also venture into Bellingham and surrounding sites like Mt. Baker and the Skagit Valley. For women traveling alone, we offer the safety of a nice neighborhood and our presence on the floor above. My husband and I are semi-retired, and we rely upon Airbnb to pay 2/3 of our mortgage. If not for the income we receive from Airbnb, we would not be able to stay in this house. We love the safety that Airbnb provides, taking credit card payments from our guests, depositing our fees right into our bank account, offering liability insurance, managing any disputes that may arise (none have), managing our reservations, protecting us from internet spam. We watched Airbnb grow and mature and meet the needs of their hosts and guests. Airbnb is a fine company and we are proud to be a part of it. The Sharing Economy is alive and well. It brings many advantages to all of us who open our homes to travelers or to those who want to try something different, something more personal than a hotel chain. Thank you for your time and attention.