The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Airbnb has changed my life for the better. As a small business owner on a self-employed income, Airbnb has been not only the greatest experience for meeting amazing people from across the globe, forging new lifelong friendships, but it's also given my partner and I the cushion we needed to allow me to leave my full time corporate job and start my own business. Airbnb allows us to travel in the style we enjoy: with an authentic local experience that gives us a sense of the flavor of the local community. When we travel via airbnb, it allows us to meet other folks who direct us towards the small local businesses in THEIR communities that we should spend money at and we, in turn, do the same for our guests. Airbnb's trust and safety and messaging tools help us not only get to know the people we choose to let into our house, but also, to make educated decisions on who we should accept and who we should deny. In return, I've befriended a wealth of amazing folks in the last year alone that I still to this day keep in touch with. We take them to local events, sometimes we share meals or wine together. They include: -A PHD in English from the University of Tacoma Washington who was just awarded tenure and is on a trip around the world. -A beautiful couple from Tasmania, Australia who helped us get through the pain of putting our elderly dog down the week they stayed with us. They have recently had twins. -A silly Irish gal with a penchant for biking across countries. -A paraglider from Switzerland that lives in Hong Kong. -A couple from Chicago who were moving to Tahoe and stayed with us while house searching. They ended up staying with us for two weeks over Thanksgiving as well, sharing our Thanksgiving meal and now, they are two of our closest friends in Tahoe. Our dogs are best buds and we see each other at least once a week if not more. Without the income from Airbnb, we wouldn't be able to make ends meet without a struggle. It allows us to live as a couple, comfortably, without sharing our house with permanent roommates. We can block the calendar when friends and family come to visit, reserving rooms for those we love and care for. I run my Airbnb business as a business: we have a license for it, I pay self employment and income taxes on the income and I pay a 10% TOT tax to our local county. These folks are people who are looking to enjoy the vibrancy of the local economy, without the sterileness of a generic hotel room. As such, I believe in paying the same hotel tax that hotels pay. I believe in Airbnb. I've been using it for almost five years now. We've hosted more than 480 individual stays from guests from all over the world. We haven't had one bad experience yet. I think that's pretty awesome.