The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00514

Submission Number:
Cathy Harber
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
We started using Airbnb as an affordable way for us to go places with our large family (4 kids). We couldn't afford to travel without services like Airbnb! It's been a wonderful service, and allowed us to experience this country as a family, and to spend our money on restaurants and other small businesses in the places we've been. Bottom line, we wouldn't have travelled without Airbnb. As the kids got older, I needed to figure out a way to make ends meet while supporting all of them in college. We thought of Airbnb, and put out home on the listing. It's been a wonderful experience for us, as it's helping us support our kids, make a little bit of money to help us as a middle class family, and share our community and city with other families. We've mostly attracted families to our home, and they've been so grateful to have an AFFORDABLE way to travel. We feel strongly that we've given others a chance to visit our community, while spending money here, and boosting our own community and neighborhoods. I wouldn't think of traveling another way, and have found that our experience has been enriched and enlivened because of our connection with Airbnb. This sharing service is a venue for lifting up the middle class, instead of limiting our options to only those that benefit the most rich/largest corporations. We see a trend in this country- consolidation, fewer choices, more expenses, stagnant wages and a deepening divide between us and the rich. Airbnb is one way that we, the middle class of this country, are given more choices, and allowed to be in the drivers seat- in a time when that is becoming more and more rare. We also feel safe sharing our home, as Airbnb provides a number of tools that allow us to screen and verify visitors well before they get here. It's our choice on who our visitors are. I feel very safe and have NEVER had an issue with any visitor. We feel that Airbnb has built a program that puts the safety of all clients first - from their $1mil in protection, to verifications, screening, and the ability to choose, cancel or drop someone any time. They also give us the opportunity to post our perceptions of our visitors (and visa versa), so we can see what others have experienced. This transparency is rare in this day and age. Airbnb is WORKING AND SUCCESSFUL. I can understand that the large hotel/services industry may see it as a threat, but if Airbnb is regulated out of business, or too many hurdles are put in front of users/sharers, it will prove yet another blow to the middle class, and our ability to make a life for ourselves and our families. Sincerely, Cathy Harber