The Spanish phrase for “My House is Your House” which as you film buffs out there will remember was immortalised in the film Pulp Fiction – is a great summation of the sharing economy and really neatly describes Airbnb in a nutshell. What Airbnb has done in a mere seven years is to kick-start the sharing economy and inspire a new raft of like-minded initiatives across the globe. Today the trend to share everything from homes to cars, even your food, is showing no signs of letting up.
Airbnb and its more upmarket counterpart onefinestay tends to attract people who are staying for short stays. Flatbook – a Montreal-based start-up is different in several respects. It is essentially a sub-letting service which manages users’ properties for them while they are away for a significant period. In order to qualify, potential users fill out a questionnaire and if accepted they can make use of Flatbook’s free storage and damage protection. The start-up will advise what rate the property will be and they retain any profit that remains after the user’s rent and bills are paid. Possible renters can also receive extra services such as pre-ordered groceries and a local phone to avoid costly roaming fees. Flatbook is now available in cities in Canada, the US and across major cities in Europe and the Middle East.
Potential guests in your home can also now pay with skills or services rather than money. Amons is a new platform that allows guests to earn their bed and board by paying through skills such as house renovation or babysitting. Hosts can either list their homes on the site for free or pay a one-off fee of US$3 (£1.95) to create a verified profile. Travellers pay a monthly subscription of US$6.99 (£4.50) to use the service which allows hosts and travellers to check each other out through a private video service before sealing the deal. We’ve just taken a sneaky peak at the ‘gigs’ on offer right now and someone is offering room and meals in exchange for 5 hours of help a day in New South Wales, Australia or another person needs some help with gardening and dog walking in Costa Rica. What are you waiting for?
We’ve previously reported on the increase in cannabis tourism and demand is getting even higher (sorry!). Described as the marijuana friendly version of Airbnb, Bud+Breakfast provides a legal space to smoke marijuana from Colorado to the Caribbean. We understand that breakfast is pancakes and muffins filled with the ‘key ingredient’.
One group of people who might not be on a high due to the sharing economy are more traditional hoteliers. However, for some hotel chains, their response to this massive disruption on their industry is “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Certainly that’s what Hyatt is signalling with its collaboration with onefinestay. The two organisations collaborated on a pilot in London over the last year. Onefinestay guests who might have been flying into London on an early flight have been storing their bags and/or using guests rooms at The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill to freshen up and tour the city whilst waiting for their onefinestay property to be available for check-in. Whilst this in itself is not necessarily ground-breaking, interesting conversations are also happening between the two organisations around loyalty programmes where a business traveller may stay at hotels for work and be able to redeem with sharing economy stays. Watch this space!
It’s not just homes that people are sharing and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention BlaBlaCar, a carpool platform that connects drivers with passengers. Whilst BlaBlaCar is not particularly new, the Paris-based firm has been cited as the biggest competitor to the SNCF rail network in France. BlaBlaCar’s reach now extends far beyond France. Membership has increased to more than 10 million and you are likely to be able to get a ride whether you are in Manchester, Moscow or Mumbai. More than 2 million people every month use BlaBlaCar across 19 countries. But despite their size, the company is preserving some core principles – drivers do not make a profit, they merely offset costs (which avoids some of the regulatory headaches that Uber has seen) and we still smile at the origin of the name BlaBlaCar – when users sign up for rides, they can choose how chatty they are based on three levels: Bla, BlaBla or BlaBlaBla.
Conversations are not the only thing you may need to carry with the advent of several new start-ups, including Carry, Roadie and ManyShip, that provide the option of getting a traveller to transport your package in their vehicle to your desired destination. Reviews, tracking facilities and security checks are some of the features that offer reassurance to the users before they use the services.
Finally on sharing transport, the growing army of global cyclists will be encouraged by a new opportunity to loan a bicycle for a ride. Spinlister’s mobile app is a product-sharing platform that connects people looking for a bike, surfboard or skiwear to rent from owners in cities around the world. Dutch bike manufacturer Vanmoof has teamed up with the peer-to-peer sharing platform encouraging Vanmoof owners to use Spinlister to pay off the cost of their bike.
Just when you thought we had exhausted the things we could share, here’s one last example – your burger! TGI Friday’s are letting diners share their two-for-one burger via their Jump Burger campaign. The chain will reward any diner who buys one with a discount code to be shared through their social networks. That is unless you would like to eat two burgers all by yourself!
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