Ben Thompson makes a compelling analysis on the function of Airbnb in the new sharing economy.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m actually writing this post while sitting in an apartment rented through Airbnb. The pictures were ok, but the plethora of reviews were effusive in their praise of this surprisingly large one-bedroom apartment with easy access to the train, so I took the plunge. Indeed, the reviews were spot-on: the apartment is beautiful, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. One more thing — my family and I are working really hard to keep the place as pristine as it was when we moved in. After all, while I trusted the ratings over the pictures, future Airbnb sublessors will surely care greatly about my rating as well.
There isn’t the sort of community that Chesky promised; I haven’t met our sublessor in person, and likely never will. I don’t know his favorite coffee shops or taco places (or ramen joints for that matter), and I very much feel not at home.
But despite that fact, some of the most important trappings of community do exist: the shared mores, and common accountability. My sublessor is incentivized to provide a great place, and I’m incentivized to keep it that way, and that more than anything is what makes Airbnb work. And, by extension, one of the big advantages of hotels — the trust instilled first by the concept and reinforced by the brand — begins to erode.
If I can add something to this analysis, based upon my experience, it definitely works as a replacement for a hotel stay but I do feel that you get to know better your host.
Maybe you won’t be spending that much time with them, but you see which brands they use daily, what their interior decoration is and the region where they live in.
It also depends what you’re looking for while booking a stay.
In general, just like Ben I usually travel with my family and opt in almost always for an independent place. But when I do travel occasional on my own, it’s great that I can get somewhere a place to sleep and to interact with the local people.
What does surprise me most of the time, at the end the price won’t be so cheap as you would imagine. It’s fairly comparable with a 2–3 star hotel.
In short, the article is a must read and I’m happy he changes from Uber to Airbnb for analysis 🙂
And I leave you here with the history from Airbnb in a nice infographic.