The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
We opened our Liberty Guest Cottage in January of 2015. Being located in a small rural town in North Carolina with a population of approximately 2600 there are no hotels or motels close to Liberty. My husband and I had the opportunity to purchase a small cottage located next to our Business "The Liberty Artisan & Craft Gallery" in 2012. After substantial investment in renovations we decided to offer the fully furnished cottage to locals with families coming to town for weddings, reunions, funerals and just general visits. We also listed the Cottage on Airbnb in January. The response was unexpected, with Airbnb listing our cottage bookings started coming in almost immediately. These bookings helped us to pay the mortgage on the cottage, the utilities and insurance. Before we opened we made sure that we were set up to pay the NC State, Local and Occupancy taxes for Randolph County. Our guests are informed upfront that the taxes must be paid at the time of Check in and I have not had any complaints with that arrangement. Our insurance company sent out an inspector to make sure that we had all the proper safety measures in place, CO2 detectors, fire extinguisher, updated wiring, handrails, etc. They would not insure us as a Bed & Breakfast as we do not live there, it is a separate cottage so they set us up as a hotel-motel with no pool. Airbnb's site is easy to use and gives the host a chance to learn a little about the people that are inquiring, the reason for their visit to our area, the length of time they would need, etc. Plus the site gives the guest an opportunity to access reviews from other guests that have stayed at the cottage. Payment is accepted through Airbnb and the day after the guest checks in the pay out goes directly into my bank account, so smooth and seamless. I also have the chance to decline an inquiry if it is not appropriate. For instance we do not allow pets in our cottage, so it is a simple matter of letting the guest know that we are not pet friendly and they can proceed to find another location. I have had nothing but excellent results with Airbnb's messaging and safety tools. I cannot say enough about how pleased I am with the Airbnb System, it has allowed us to have visitors from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alaska, Malaysia, Texas, Utah, South Carolina, and Maryland.