The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
In our eight months as Airbnb hosts, my husband and I have used space in our home to help pay our bills. I am a public school teacher, he's a graphic designer who was laid off two years ago. The income we generate is not substantial (i.e. it will never ever approach the salary of a full time job), but it helped us pay our very high electric bills this past winter. As we keep a tight household budget already, Airbnb helps us pay sports and activity fees for our two children. We're using our resources, skills, and ingenuity to maximize the value of what we have. We love our house--it's a funky, artsy, one-of-a-kind contemporary in a sea of colonials. The people who choose our house are invariably interesting, worldly, and intellectually curious. We expected to meet interesting people in our "guest pool". What we did not anticipate were nascent friendships, networking opportunities, and great job-hunting suggestions from people we would never otherwise encounter. We offer them a weekend getaway and wonderful hospitality. They often return the favor with new ideas for career growth and contacts. We've made contacts from around the world, and that's been wonderfully educational for our daughters. Yesterday, in fact, my ten year old learned to make Pakistani fruit salad from a guest. Together they made tea and walked through the cool morning air to inspect new growth in the garden. Last week I couldn't pay my daughter to go out to the garden. But having guests gives new energy to our household. Our children are learning small business fundamentals, the value of doing regular chores and home maintenance, social niceties, and cultural insights about the world. I'm thrilled that Airbnb is enriching our lives in this way.