The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My husband and I originally started using airbnb.com as a way to bring in extra income as we had our house for sale in FL for 7 1/2 yrs. and the expense was killing us. We rented out 3 bedrooms in the FL house and two in our Colorado house until the FL house finally sold. We enjoyed the experience so much. We have hosted people from around the world, and truly believe that we, and all other hosts, are making the world smaller by fostering this "sharing economy." We have gotten to know many small business owners and always recommended them to our guests, so we feel that we are an important asset to our communities. In our small town in Colorado we only have two motels, but our airbnb hosts have tripled in the past year providing needed places to stay that help keep tourist dollars in our town. Believe me, we are an integral part of changing our town from just a pass-through to a destination spot. We love the experience so much that when we bought a small house in FL this past year we started renting it on VRBO when we are not there. We feel it is ridiculous to let a resource like ours sit idle when it could be housing guests. Our little town in FL has only 2 inns, but numerous airbnb & VRBO properties, and boy are we popular! Many retirees from up north are begging for home-away-from-home places to stay in the winter. Frankly, our airbnb experience has been a blessing to us as we have finally let go of our inhibition of having strangers stay in our homes. Our guests are not "strangers;" they are only friends that we haven't met yet. Airbnb does a great job of vetting guests before they even get to make a reservation, and they provide insurance to cover any damage. In three years of doing this I haven't had one guest who was unpleasant or caused any damage. Because there is a lot of communication with future guests before they arrive, I already feel that I know them. My husband and I are retired, but hosting has now become our job. We are more active and involved in our communities, and really feel that we are diplomats for our country.