The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Hello! I am an Airbnb host in San Mateo, California. I have been hosting for about 3 years and have had nothing but postive experiences. I have hosted over 1,000 guests from all over the world. The income that I earn from hosting almost covers my mortgage payments, and has allowed my husband and I to have a higher standard of living. Additionally, because of Airbnb we have made friends from all over the United States and the world, which has created a beautiful close knit "global village" environment. I have a large home and a small studio-both of which I rent out on Airbnb (and sometimes VRBO, athough for safety and security I prefer Airbnb). I have never had an issue with disrespectful, loud, unruly or bothersome guests. My neighbors on both sides are aware of my airbnb business and have never complained. My guests are multi-generational families who want to spend time together in a relaxing and home-like environment. I cater to grandma, grandpa, cousins, aunties, and grandkids who want to vacation together. I also use Airbnb when I travel. One of the most important things that policy makers need to understand about Airbnb is that it promotes tourism. Hotels complain that they lose business to Airbnb. While that may be partially true, there are many people who would not travel if hotels were their only option. For example, I have a young family. We cannot afford to travel unless we have a kitchen to prepare meals, as eating out in restaurants is time consuming, costly, and incovenient with young children. Of couse, we do eat some special meals in restaurants, cafes etc, but we need the option of preparing at least simple breakfasts. If it were not for Airbnb, we would not have taken trips to San Diego, New York, etc. Its just too difficult, uncomfortable, and expensive to cram a young family into a hotel room. The lack of privacy creates all kinds of stress. Additionally, last year we took a wonderful muli-generational trip down the California Coast. With 14 people, including young babies, we absolutely needed both a kitchen as well as a livingroom/dining room where we could all hang out, spread out, and relax. We rented a lovely 4 bedroom home and enjoyed ourselves immensely. This trip would have been impossible if we had to stay in a hotel. We simply would not have taken the trip, and the towns we visited would have lost out on our tourism dollars (we spent money at restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, small business etc). Hotels have their place, of course. They are convenient for business travelers, or couples who don't need that much space. Hotels will always be a vital part of tourism and business travel. But for family travel, the sharing economy really shines. I believe that Airbnb/VRBO owners SHOULD pay local Occupancy tax, just like hotels. Local governments should benefit from the tourist dollars. I also believe there should be strict behavior standards for guests. However, Airbnb SHOULD NOT be outlawed. Some regulations on the sharing economy are to be expected. But on behalf of the hosts who rely on Airbnb income, and on behalf of families who rely Airbnb for travel, please support this most vital part of the sharing economy.