District of Columbia
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My husband and I started using Airbnb as travelers when touring through Italy. We had 3 weeks and needed to make our money last the whole time. We met so many amazing people and had the most extraordinary experiences that we decided to become hosts when we got home. We have been renting our home on Airbnb for over two years now. We've met a Virginia Tech Massacre victim, a prominent Boston psychologist, a Spanish AIDS researcher, an English soccer player, and countless students from all over the country and their families. We've hosted families with children, gay couples, straight couples, singles, businessmen, conference attendees, and so many more. Airbnb has helped us in so many ways. Not only do we have great exposure to different people and cultures, but we definitely use it to help pay the bills. In DC, one of the most expensive cities in America, the cost of living is tough. Add to that $250,000 in student loans for the two of us who went to grad school, and you are looking at a very tight monthly budget. Airbnb helps us pay our mortgage, pay down our student loans faster, and visit our families more often--all of whom live out of state (actually, a plane flight away). We still use Airbnb when traveling out of state or abroad. We stayed with a woman in Vietnam recently and she made us a homemade, traditional Vietnamese breakfast. We've stayed at Airbnb listings in New York City, Austin, Vietnam, Thailand, Traverse City, Richmond, and even DC itself! We put our visiting parents in Airbnb listings when we didn't have space in our 555 sq ft apartment to have them stay with us. Because every hotel was at least 1 mile away from our apartment, and the Airbnb was literally across the street, we were able to spend way more time with them. Airbnb provides a quality service. That's the reason it is so valuable. The value of the listings are driven by market demand. You have more options to choose from, you can find a more home-like space, and you can meet interesting people. What's curious about the current debate over the sharing economy is that people have been sharing for years. Time shares? Vacation rentals? VRBO? Ever rented a ski cabin in the mountains? Sharing economy. A beachfront condo? Sharing economy. What about a Carpet Cleaner from your grocery store or hardware store? Sharing economy. Airbnb hasn't changed that. It's just enlarged it. And to the benefit of every single person involved in the Airbnb transaction.