The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Dear FTC Policymakers, I am writing to share my positive experiences in support of the so-called "sharing" economy, specifically Airbnb. I've been an Airbnb "host" -- someone who rents out all or a portion of their home to short-term travelers -- for about 3 months now. I've hosted about 15 groups of guests already in this short time. My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, and hosting has provided me a number of benefits. First and foremost, the extra income I've been able to generate by renting out part of my home has been very helpful. I've been able to pay part of my mortgage each month. Most of the money I've earned so far has gone back into my home to make needed improvements, repairs and upgrades. Not only is my home improved for me and my guests, it improves the neighborhood in general, and I've patronized local services and businesses in the process. Another benefit of hosting through Airbnb is that I've met a variety of new and interesting people. While I've had more interaction with some guests than others, everyone who has stayed with me has been polite and friendly, and I've enjoyed sharing tips and recommendations for local things to do. I know I've already met some great new friends that I will keep in touch with on an ongoing basis. Some of my guests haven't even come from very far away -- they may live in small apartments or with roommates -- but they just want to relax in new surroundings for a weekend. I had a group of college students rent my home for a few days to shoot a student film. It was fun to have all of the creative energy around! And another guest turned out to be in a similar business as I am and we realized we could help each other with business opportunities. We even each invited a few friends over for a group BBQ on her last night in town. Another benefit of short-term guests is that in my experience so far, these guests are very respectful of my property and do not impose much "wear and tear" in their brief stays. I set house rules and other instructions which have been followed in each case. Because of Airbnb's review system, I believe most guests want to build a positive record so that they can continue to use the service. While I'm sure some regulation of these "sharing economy" platforms will be necessarily, I hope we will be allowed to continue to utilize these new opportunities for generating extra income, supporting local businesses, encouraging tourism and building friendships. Hosts and guests alike love Airbnb!