The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00743

Submission Number:
Beth Llewellyn McLaughlin
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
To Members of the FTC: I would like to share with you my experience with, and support of, the service that Airbnb provides to middle-class Americans like my husband and me. We are homeowners in Fort Worth, Texas. Both of us are (earlier than planned) retired public high school teachers. My husband had to take disability retirement 3 years ago after cancer treatment. For two years I was his full-time caregiver. Our income was cut in half, and even with insurance, we accrued substantial medical debt. As his health situation stabilized, I returned to work part-time in retail (for flexibility with caregiving) and we began hosting Airbnb guests to begin to return to some financial normalcy. How did I learn about Airbnb? I had heard and read about it in the media, and it had piqued my interest as I had, myself, owned and operated an historic bed and breakfast business in a small town for 7 years in the 1990's. As we were exploring ways that we could earn some additional income to pay off our debts, I checked out Airbnb's website. I was extremely impressed. Within an hour or two I was able to create and post a listing that encompassed everything that I had had to figure out and do myself when I had opened my own bed and breakfast the first time. That had taken months to accomplish. They had covered every base, answered every question, provided all the necessary support. The computer platform is user-friendly, efficient, attractive and secure. We have already hosted two medical students on month-long rotations, one scientist on a fellowship, a new grandmother in town to help her daughter and son-in-law, two couples relocating to Fort Worth and house-hunting...all in the past 8 months. The connection between host and guest is handled through the Airbnb site (almost like a dating service!), and the payment transaction is also taken care of by Airbnb. Our experience has been amazing and seamless. We have provided an appreciated service to our guests-comfortable, friendly, affordable and safe lodging. They have provided us with needed income, a new "job" for my disabled husband, providing him the opportunity to meet new people and feel like a contributing part of the household. We hope very much that the grassroots, entrepreneurial spirit of shared economy ventures like Airbnb will be allowed to flourish freely. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Respectfully, Beth Llewellyn McLaughlin