Air B&B, Uber and the Shared Economy
by Dale Wilson
With corporations taking over the economy and mom and pop businesses being swallowed up in the process the internet allows individuals to compete with the corporations and make money on the side.
Most every traveler is obliged to stay in corporate owned hotels and motels when traveling to a distant city. With the advent of Air B&B savvy shoppers can now book a stay in private homes. Now empty-nesters can make a little extra cash by renting out the kids room or the attached apartment.
Air B&B handles all the paperwork and collects the money when they hook up a traveler with a private individual with space to share. As an added feature the travelers and the lodging-owner are able to critique the space and the traveler. If a lodging is unclean or the host too nosy then the travelers post this information for all other would-be renters to know–ahead of time.
Likewise, the lodging provider can critique the visitors. If they throw loud parties or leave a stinking mess then other property owners find out and avoid having them in their own space.
Hosts who go to great lengths to provide a safe environment can build up “points” with the public and be rewarded for their professionalism by word of mouth advertising–the best kind of advertising.
Then there is the Uber-Driver phenomenon. Drivers can list their services with an online dispatcher. Anyone seeking a ride from point A to point B can, through a smart-phone app, determine which available drivers are in their vicinity and select a driver to pick them up and deliver them to their destination. Uber takes a cut for arranging the connection and the driver makes a little extra money during down time.
As with the B&B platform, drivers can rate passengers and passengers can rate the drivers–all on the Uber website. This way passengers can avoid smelly cars and rude drivers. Likewise, uber drivers can read critiques of passengers and refuse those with bad reputations or who otherwise mistreat the drivers.
Soon this sharing economy will make its way to the wider neighborhoods and residents will come together to purchase big ticket items such as lawn mowers and chain saws. Most people use these type items infrequently. However everyone in the neighborhood must buy one to have one available even though it sits in the garage 95% if time.
Imagine if an entire block of neighbors agreed to pool their money and purchase the big ticket items one uses infrequently. Say for instance 15 homeowners on a city block pooled their money and purchased one really nice riding lawn mower. Then each homeowner would have access to the mower two days per month. This would allow everyone in the co-op to mow their lawns twice a month for a fraction of the costs of each homeowner purchasing a personal mower. Now each homeowners’ investment in the mower is approximately $100 dollars instead of one or two thousand dollars. Naturally there would have to be some built in maintenance money set aside and anyone abusing the jointly-owned mower would be responsible for repairs associated with abusive use.
Neighbors sharing their lawn mowers and other big ticket equipment could save big money and free up space in the garage.
This same shared economy would work with municipalities in overlapping jurisdictions. For instance, is it necessary for the city of Port Angeles and Clallam County to each purchase huge dump trucks, track-hoes, augers and other big ticket items? Couldn’t the city and the county and the port plan a schedule where dump trucks, back-hoes, trenchers and other items could be purchased jointly and scheduled out a month at a time with each jurisdiction scheduleing their work on a shared schedule. Maintenance would of course be a shared expense.
With this type cooperation the taxpayers would not be hit with multiple identical purchases and expensive equipment would not be sitting idle for many days of the year. If you look at the duplication of equipment at the Port of Port Angeles, Clallam County, and the city of Port Angeles–all sharing the exact same physical space–extraordinary savings for the taxpayer could be had with just a bit of cooperation and planned purchases between the governing boards of each jurisdiction. The taxpayers deserve this consideration and this could create a model for all communities sharing similar space.