I cannot for the life of me remember why I tried Airbnb for the first time. You’d think it’d be somewhere on this blog that I have had for nearly three years…I am too lazy to look (based on my inclusion of a link…I found it 😉 ). But I have yet to be disappointed. I love to travel and believe me, the luxury of a nice hotel (not expensive necessarily, but clean, comfy and quiet) can be a dream when coming in from a long, hot day touristing … but the convenience of a fully equipped apartment, appeal of price for the location and at times, getting the local’s opinion via guestbook or just word of mouth, is quite nice. I am not made of money and I couldn’t have done nearly as much travel for the dollar (euro) if I had chosen hotels every time I visited a new city in Europe.
And what about apps (sites) like Uber and Lyft? These privately owned vehicles that are parading around all big cities, worldwide recently. Offering rides cheaper than taxis from friendly, real people. Nothing against Taxi drivers but my experiences with these sites, Lyft especially, has been nothing but positive. When I used Lyft in San Francisco last December I was so impressed. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. These people were proud of their city and this was their way to make a little cash while driving people around and showing off their home.
I used Uber for the first time in NYC (as Lyft in NYC hadn’t yet been allowed). Uber is a little different, they all have Black vehicles and they’re a little less chatty than Lyft is. It felt more like a car-hire than a ride around town with a friend. But the cars were always nice, clean and safe and the drivers pleasant enough. It’s nice to be able to use the app, equipped with GPS, to “hail” an Uber driver to your location. You can see where the Uber cars are around your area and it will tell you how long until your driver shows up. You’ll also get to see the type of car, a picture and phone number of the driver and all other important info. And, as with Lyft, you can leave comments on the drivers when your ride is over. Keeping quality high for both Lyft and Uber.
(( my personal plug: wanna earn free credit while helping me earn some too? Download the app and use this code: bcutd. You and I will both earn a free ride. Why not? 😀 ))
Why do I mention this now … and how is it linked to Airbnb ?
All of these sites are under scrutiny from government. Think about it, Airbnb is taking away HUGE profits from hotels and resorts not to mention apparently letting apartment renters do a lot of illegal subletting. Uber and Lyft take a HUGE amount of taxi customers everywhere by charging less and being more convenient, however, the drivers don’t have to pay the Taxi licensing fees and go though what most cabbies do. I totally get why there were Taxi strikes all over Europe a few weeks ago. For Airbnb in NYC … it might be soon over. The government is fining certain apartment renters who were renting spaces for shorter than 1 month (if they weren’t living there). See HERE: airbnb/uber in NYC. There is so much pressure from Taxis unions and the hotel industry to make these amazingly useful sites disappear.
Not gunna happen.
All of this being said … isn’t this what the world is about? A whole supply and demand situation. A consumer market. And all that jazz. Like with anything else … if someone can produce a product better, cheaper. Well of course consumers are going to flock that way.
What do you think? Should Uber and Aibnb be allowed to operate as they are, without the hefty hand of government tracking every move and decision? Or should there be more regulation? More oversight?
Again, I do understand the backlash. Really, I do. But as a consumer I will always search for the cheaper option, as long as the quality is high. So, I will continue with Airbnb and Uber/Lyft (if need be). Society and government just need to shift as we always do. Taxis cannot have a monopoly on city transport…why should they? This is not to say I will never take a taxi again. These sites will not make taxis obsolete … there will just be a shift, a sharing of this load. Can the government regulate this, will they? Yes. More than likely.