The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I would like to submit to the workshop my personal experience of the sharing economy. Last summer, I listed my guest room on Airbnb. I am a single mom, with a small business of my own (besides Airbnb). Income from the guest room is not a lot, but it enables me to continue to work at home, while simultaneously bringing in additional income that helps pay the rent and the exorbitant utility bills that come with having a charming 100-year-old home. This income has been also important to me as I grow my personal business, and it affords me the flexibility to be available to my school-age kids and their myriad activities (and also helps pay for some of those activities). It has improved our quality of life and reduced some of the stress of meeting our expenses and paying our bills. As a single parent, I am of course cautious about who I allow into our home. Airbnb's system allows me to specify my comfort level, and only accept visitors that meet specific verification standards. I am able to decline visitors that do not have a complete profile or photo ID on file, for example. I appreciate that my personal information, as well as guests', is protected by Airbnb, as long as our communication goes through their system. My guests so far have come from all over the world, and I love that my children have gotten to meet and interact with such a varied cross-section of people. Without exception, my guests have been friendly and interesting. I feel supported by Airbnb, and I feel that they would work with me to resolve any issue that might arise with a guest or with my own property as a result of hosting. I would feel very hesitant to open my home to visitors on my own, without that support, verification and privacy. My home is in a lovely downtown historic district, in walking distance to the local restaurants and shops, and right next to the regional light rail station. I am proud that my guests help contribute to small businesses in my city, as well as to the larger metro economy. I like that my guests get to see my city in a way they wouldn't necessarily experience if they stayed in a hotel. It feels much warmer and more personal. In closing, I must say that so far, I am a fan of the sharing economy in this sense. I am excited about its potential in other areas as well. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.