The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01903

Submission Number:
Sandra Martin
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am a professional who has not been able to find work. My former company, Grubb & Ellis, went into bankruptcy in 2012. They eventually sold the company assets and were forced to close down many offices nationwide. My office in San Jose, Ca. was one of them. The closure left me at a fork in the road. Do I stay in Silicon Valley which is extraordinarily expense or do I return to Seattle where I own a home for a fresh start and more affordable life style? I chose Seattle. After continuously seeking work for almost 2 years with no results, a friend recommended doing Airbnb out of my home. He had been doing it since 2010 to survive after a divorce. As it was saving him, it saved me. I have been able to pay the mortgage on my home and meet some basic expenses as a result. Becoming an Airbnb host also revived my battered self-esteem and confidence after the endless rejection I faced as I sought full time employment. For me, the last 35 years of getting a job easily based on superb references, skills and experiences had come to an abrupt halt. I needed to turn lemons into lemonade and I have thanks to Airbnb. In the meantime, I have still continued to seek employment but without success. I have come to realize that the current economic world considers anyone over 50 not worth a commitment unless you have niche specialty skills and experiences. The biggest strike against me has been that I am the new person in town. I do not have a local network of people to recommend my work performance as jobs come up in their companies. Seattle, like so many other places I have lived and worked, functions with people getting jobs through those they have known for ages. I've been working on that but realistically, it takes years and years. This year I am incoming President of my professional organization and for the last year I have been VP, Membership. I am hoping that next year the job for me will finally materialize but until and if then Airbnb is my life line. What else does Airbnb give me? It gives me a focus every day, companionship as most guests are delightful, it expands my world, it keeps me curious and engaged with my community as I seek out new suggestions of best places to eat and experience for my guests, and all of this gives me more freedom and choices that would not be there otherwise. But Airbnb doesn't isn't just about benefiting me. It benefits thousands and thousands of guests and the cities that they go to. The economic struggle that we have been coming out of has left way too many people with reduced resources. They can't afford a hotel or motel but yet they want and need to travel. They have kids and grandkids to see, they own their own business and must go places for work, they are students who are applying to schools or visiting to see if this is the university or program for them, it is tourists from all over the world, it is someone who just moved here and their apartment is either not ready from them to move into or they need shelter until they find their new "home", or it is an intern for a local business to name a few. They all NEED and REQUIRE a place like Airbnb because a regular hotel for is out of their reach. They also want a different kind of experience. They like having other people around them and enjoy "living like a local" and experiencing communities up close and personal as suggested through the recommendations of their host. They like conversing about anything and everything with the host when both have a moment. They want a more personal, unique and "real" experience that feels like home. Airbnb offers a wide variety of experiences that hotels can't touch and they offer a personalization that hotels can't offer. That is why I use Airbnb and that is why I am an Airbnb host. I will just mention, that as far as city governments are concerned, we, both hosts and guests, add $$$ to the coffers that would not make it there otherwise. As my guests mention that I refer them to a specific restaurant or shop, I have been given free samples, gift cards, etc. as a personal thank you for referring the business. My guests also buy me gifts as a thank you and leave thank you cards. It doesn't get better than this. So let's not kill or handicap the goose who is laying golden eggs…