The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
To whom it may concern: As an Airbnb superhost, I have hosted many guests from all over the world and many parts of the U.S. Many more guests will come in the near future. My experiences tell me that Airbnb embodies a sharing economy that benefits the national and local economy, guests, and hosts. Airbnb is profoundly changing consumer behaviors in a positive ways. Without Airbnb, I would not rent my house to a stranger for safety reason for myself and my neighbors. With its guest profiles and reviews on guests, I suddenly feel comfortable to rent my place to people who are vetted already. Furthermore, I do not have problem with most of the people who are flocking to Airbnb without prior history. First, Airbnb is a value system that most of its users subscribe to. Guests and hosts respect one another. Second, guests and hosts alike are protected from rare, if any, disastrous incidents, if they ever occur. Its review platform keeps people honest. Its messaging system help people decide whether to proceed with a reservation. Its insurance policy and staff involvement safeguard all parties' interest, in case anything goes wrong. Airbnb also polices its community as diligent as local police department. With its well-developed and ever-evolving platform, Airbnb is making hosting a group of guests from any corner of the world the similar experience to hosting a party for family and friends. Airbnb's platform benefits the economy on different levels. First, it generates income for guests who pay taxes into the U.S. treasury, states, and local municipality. Second, it stimulates local tourism. People travel more as a result of more abundant supply of lodging options. Airbnb offers a wide range of lodging options, from a couch in a living room to a mansion in an upper class neighborhood. In a high tourist season, people who used to be prevented from traveling because of scarcity of hotel rooms suddenly find themselves blessed with many more choices. People who used to not be able to travel because of expensive hotel rates now are able to afford a couch in a living room that makes the trip possible. More tourists helped by Airbnb and other modern technology tools such as Uber is a boon to local economy. Airbnb helps middle class families such as mine. The hosting income helps me pay for my son's upcoming college education. As an added benefits, I have come arose people from all walks of lives from all over the world. Their life experiences and career choices have broaden my understanding of the world and certainly have enriched my life and my family's life. It is worth mentioning that some guests are Airbnb hosts themselves. Inspired by the spirit of the Airbnb guests I have hosted, I plan to book Airbnb hosts' places when my family travels. Airbnb helps guests as much as hosts. Every hosting event becomes an interesting story.I hosted a Belgian crew team last year. There were in total 10 athletes who participated in the Charles River Regatta. Living in a nine-room 3200 square feet apartment I provided, they were pleasantly surprised by the amenities at a cost way below their original expectation. Moreover, my house is only a short walk away from renowned Community Rowing Inc (CRI), which attracts rowers from all over the world with its boathouse by the Charles River. The Charles River Regatta is a significant event for rowers worldwide. But lodging cost used to be a prohibitive factor in their travel decision to Boston. Encouraged by exceptional hospitality and more affordable lodging cost, they are considering a second trip to Boston and another reservation at my apartment. A trip such as theirs certainly helps the airlines, restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, Symphony hall, and the Regatta. A great company makes money by doing good. With its revolutionary business strategies, diligent execution, and the benefits afforded the economy and the people, Airbnb deserves all the regulatory and administrative support from FTC.