The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
We converted and upgraded a guest space in order to host Airbnb guests. Initially the impetus was to help supplement our income in order to help with our son's university / tuition expenses. Even when he graduates we plan to continue hosting because it's been so satisfying. We have loved our experiences hosting and see a positive ripple effect in many ways. The guests usually come to site see in San Francisco or other parts of the Bay Area. They, without exception, pour money back into the community by supporting local businesses as well as spending on other travel costs such as car rental and airline tickets. Hosts also help the economy by purchasing staples to keep guests well provided for. In our case, we also pay a local woman to help with cleaning the room after our guests depart. She, in turn benefits from this while she struggles financially to help with added medical expenses from her husband on dialysis. The other piece is that we often feel as if we are informal ambassadors for guests who've come from the U.S., Canada, Argentina, England, Finland, France, Germany, Russia, China, Brazil so far. These are great individuals that will encourage family and friends to vacation here and who have a great image of America and American hospitality. The difference between staying in a hotel vs. Airbnb is that the potential exists for guests and hosts to get to know one another. We have ended up sharing meals together and suggesting all kinds of off the beaten track places to visit so that they feel like they are getting more of a local perspective. We have hosted several businessmen that travel extensively for work and who have stated that they are sick of staying in generic hotels all of the time. We hosted a mother/daughter when the mother needed radiation treatments and needed a quiet homelike environment in which to recover. We have had college professors, retirees, students, people coming for graduations, weddings, a funeral, work on location, people between rental leases, etc. We are in a quiet neighborhood and have not experienced any problems with guests. We have been very satisfied with the type of screening that Airbnb does for its guests and hosts in terms of ensuring that the guests are well vetted and that there won't be any financial or character problems. Their review system is very helpful and allows hosts to ultimately decide whether or not they will accept a reservation request. We are big proponents of the Airbnb and sharing economy models and see how so many can benefit from these opportunities.