The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00561

Submission Number:
Kathi Browne
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I would like to share my personal experience as an Airbnb host in writing, and if desired in person on June 9. WHY WE JOINED AIRBNB After the last of our sons left for college, our 5000 sq ft home was too big and quiet. We talked about selling and moving to something smaller, but realized buying something smaller would actually cost us more in the current economy. At the same time, I was lonely and bored and so Ie decided to focus my attention on creative ways to earn a little money while finding fulfillment. I had two areas I wanted to tap into: my gift of hospitality and my passion for community involvement. I discovered Airbnb -- a place to list our home and safely consider guests. HOW WE BENEFIT Through Airbnb, we began offering accomodations to young families on a budget, rotating medical students, and PA interns who couldn't afford the cost of hotel rooms. We love meeting so many wonderful people and having a little extra spending money to put into our own entertainment (we love charity balls/auctions). My husband, who works in upper medical mgmt, gets the inside scoop of who might make good medical hires later on. I enjoy helping families make memories by pointing them to local businesses and showing them Maryille through the eyes of a local. I even collect local restaurant coupons and keep up with local calendars to share with our guests. WHO STAYS US Foreign embassadors, famous jazz musicians, foreign PhD students, medical students, businessmen in training, and lots of families. We have hosted families who came for marathons, connected with clans at the local Scottish festival, and celebrated a successful bone marrow transplate with a mountaintop view. We have also helped local hospitals and UT college programs provide training to quality students and later recruit them to the area. HOW WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE All of these people would not have contributed to my personal joy or our local economy without an affordable home like ours to welcome them in. A large family would typically have to spend $200-300/night in a hotel or cabin, while we have a three-bedroom wing that would cost less than half that. Mark and I see it as a WIN WIN. We enjoy it and our guests frequently stay longer than planned and can't wait to return! OUR ADVICE AS EXPERIENCED HOST I'm currently working with local govt to identify how Maryville can smartly embrace Airbnb to grow our local economy. My recommendations include the following: 1. Within residential zoning, Airbnb works best as a true BandB-style structure and not for vacation rentals. Unmanned houses present too many opportunities for abuse and put neighborhoods at risk. 2. Cities should not limit the number of allowed guests (ie: accessory use of a residence) such that families are excluded from benefitting from Airbnb. They are untapped spending potential with the least risk and present the best benefit to home owners. 3. Cities can realize more economic benefit from Airbnb by facilitating communication between local businesses and Airbnb guests, and by recognizing its Airbnb community as a valuable asset. Economic growth workshops, current community calendars, special savings offers, and 5-star Airbnb accomodation listings will incentivize desired outcomes. I hope my input is useful in your discussions. Sincerely, Kathi Browne [REDACTED]