We are back to the UK quite soon to clear an house out( never a nice task) and friends are house sitting here. Having read about the ” Social Economy” recently I was keen to give it a try as on our sojourn through S. E. Asia this winter I hadn’t been able to .
It’s all about using the internet to be able to share stuff . I have a spare room you are looking for one for a few nights so use the internet to bring us together. I need a lift to the airport, you have a car that is sitting in your driveway why not drive me and get paid ? So use the internet to again bring us together.
AirBnB.com are the big boys on the room side. Indeed they are now valued at over $10 Billion which is way more than say Hilton Hotels. I had a look at the places we are going but I have to say B&Bs still conjure up to me memories of soggy cold weeks at an English seaside resort ( or indeed living in Puglia this month). In Exmouth we would eat a nondescript breakfast of mainly grease and then be tossed out onto the streets to wander up and down the beach front or sit in the bus shelters. So in the end I opted for pub B&Bs rather than someone’s spare room .
However clearly things are different when using AirBnB and huge numbers of people book it now. You can read about it by clicking on Here to see an article from the New York Times. From the photos and the article you can see how popular it is with Italians visiting New York and as they say a room in NYC for $85 a night was something you only dreamt about 20 years ago let alone now.
What I hadn’t done was think about renting my house while away but maybe I should have done before roping in friends. Have a look at this one Here from AirBnB a few kilometres from here. Now without being rude to Donato who looks a great guy it probably isn’t the most desirable residence in the area but play around with the pricing and ask for 4 people for a week in May and the price jumps to €485. Mind you I’m not sure the lad has got his pricing right for July say when he comes down in price.
Still $485 sure pays for the airfares to the UK doesn’t it. The whole site revolves around the reviews written by the guests. You can’t make another booking till you have written a review of the first and the idea is that good places stay and poor places quickly disappear. Not many of us would stay in a fleapit I guess.
We are doing the car thing though down here to get to the airport . We just aren’t using one of the internet companies like uber.com or lyft. com as they only operate, as yet, in the States. Our neighbour who normally takes us is laid up with knee problems so he has found us a lad with a car and nothing to do who wants to earn a little cash . So the principle is just the same .
Have a look at Uber by clicking Here it is pretty impressive now and the use of GPS and credit card sharing etc makes it stand out. Oh to have something like this in Puglia as taxis are almost unheard of here and the few that are about are ludicrously expensive.
However all as you can imagine is not all plain sailing for these start up companies. Their offering is attracting the attention both of established companies like hotel chains and taxi companies but more so by governments both local and State. The reason is fairly obvious as Drew Patterson writes in the Pando Daily
“In fact, while these businesses nailed rapidly changing consumer preferences – buying services at time of usage, rather than owning assets fits the post-recession, Millennial sensibility of the moment – the supply side of their businesses does not match the narrative. Supply in these marketplaces is increasingly delivered by entrepreneurial, small business owners, not fellow consumers. Uber and Airbnb are best understood as reimagined franchise operations that leverage mobile data, the social graph, and continuous feedback loops to deliver a better consumer experience. ”
Indeed young Donato’s offering on AirBnB is a long way from what they say they offer. He has an house to rent probably because he can’t sell it and has added this site to Owners Abroad and others. He is not renting a room in a house he lives in though he does want to make a few euros of extra cash.
Worse is of course government interference. Uber have already been told by Brussels city council in Belgium it cannot start operations there . Taxi firms contribute too much to the economy of the city it seems. I can’t imagine the myriad of levels of government in Italy being wildly welcoming to say Uber and they must be watching people like Donato too as they advertise their second and third homes on AirBnB.
But it is a great concept and surely there must be ways of making it work . Already Uber have tightened insurance rules for cars and both companies have offered to start collecting local taxes that are due. As The Economist magazinerightly says
“This all argues for adaptation, not prohibition. An unlikely pioneer is San Francisco, not usually regarded as a municipal model. Uber and Lyft got going in the city partly because taxis were hard to find, but the authorities have tolerated them. San Francisco bans rentals of less than 30 days, but is considering allowing people to let their residence, provided they live there most of the time, register with the city and pay its 14% hotel tax. Amsterdam and Hamburg have similar rules.
The sharing economy is one of the great unforeseen benefits of the digital age. Cities should not ban it but welcome it”.