The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Being an Air BnB host has been a most welcome financial opportunity for me. After 30 years as an at-home-mom and someone who helped build her husband's business, divorce left me in a tight spot when it came to finding a job I was qualified for. The terrible economy and the online system of evaluating job applicants exacerbated my problem as there was no room for a non-traditional job applicant. I found that by becoming an Air BnB host I was able to supplement my modest retirement income. I also had time flexibility that I craved. This helped me deal with health issues and allowed me to continue to volunteer in the community. Some friends had been concerned about safety, but I have experienced no safety issues. First of all, I planned for ways of dealing with obvious problems like any business person should. Secondly, I use the reviews and ID verification available through Air BnB. If someone has a string of good reviews, that is a fantastic indicator that they are a good risk. If they don't, I don't have to accept them, or I can "underwrite" them further with communication and ultimately, I can decline their reservation, which I have done. I also can give bad reviews to anyone who fails to meet a standard. I have received excellent support from Air BnB when major questions came up. I very much enjoy hosting people from other countries and those who are visiting or moving to my area. I am able to give personalized service and recommendations of restaurants and activities to these people (when they want it) and it is enjoyable for both me and for my guests. Bigger isn't always better! Basically, I have been able to provide enough money from my Air BnB hosting to satisfactorily supplement my small income without having to take a regular job. I am in my 60's and like so many in my demographic, have found the job search demoralizing. Here is something I know how to do, I do well, I take pride in, I can do when and how I like, and for which there is a structure in terms of taking payments, verifying identity, communications etc. Air BnB is one part of the sharing economy that really helps both the one who offers the service and the one who receives it. I am very proud to be able to have this small business I can operate myself.