The Sharing Economy, children. Have you made its acquaintance? If Lyft has ferried your drunk carcass home across the river Tryx, you are already part of it. Sharing Economy apps and online services may help people get around town, but they also offer lodging in private homes and spaces around the world. Users trade room service and a bar for more space and privacy or an appealing neighborhood. In the process, private hosts make money with a little help from their virtual friends.
AirBnB is among the most popular of these services (others include VRBO and HomeAway) offering privately owned homes, condos, even whimsical tree-house accommodations to travelers seeking an alternative to the dull parade of beige corporate hostelry. Most cities have a large and varied inventory of properties available at prices comparable to or lower than local hotel stock, making it a snap to find the perfect place to cool your heels on a trip (even with your unique demands). Our own aspirational backwater boasts 247 listings on AirBnB alone.
These services are predicated on a certain level of mutual trust, backed of course by terms and conditions and credit-card holds. Still, many of you feel a creeping anxiety at the thought of catching a ride with a stranger, much less sleeping in their bed. Some aspiring hoteliers share your reservations, the notion of welcoming lodgers into their homes and apartments at once exhilarating (dollar, dollar bills) and horrifying (Did I hide all the dildos?). In the interest of assuaging your shared concerns, hosts and guests, please consider these modest proposals.
A host’s privacy concerns are both completely understandable and easily addressed. Assume the worst and hope for the best. With any risk, your best one-two punch is avoidance and mitigation. Afraid of someone chronicling your medical history through your astonishing array of pharmaceuticals? Pack up them pills. Care to keep your proclivities and hobbies in the trust circle? Lock up your accoutrements. Which brings us to the other half of this privacy pas de deux: dear guests, please leave your Gladys Kravitz detective kit at home.
COMFORT AND AMENITIES
Dear hosts, please ensure your bathroom doors close and lock. Please remove your off-putting if impressively vast collection of musky, yellowed giveaway yarmulkes from the utensil drawer. Beyond that, most guests expect the fundamentals, including fresh linens and towels, basic toiletries, and a kitchen stocked with enough hardware to prepare a simple meal. Sous vide gear preferred, but not required. Guests, if the amenities outshine those detailed above, expect to pay more. WiFi is commonplace, but a full home Sonos and sling may be outliers. Expect to pay more to enjoy more. Back to you, hosts – part of the AirBnB appeal is local flavor, so stock a few extras like local wine or craft beers, or a brief note about your favorite restaurants, museums, parks, or music venues. Fantasy-inducing treats from your favorite pusher (Old-school Nadler’s? La Lorraine?) will amaze; simple but thoughtful psychological manipulation is best.
COURTESY AND THE LAW
It’s all fun and games until someone loses their dignity. House rules are important. Hosts expect their patrons to respect their space and their neighbors, which means (generally) no parties or loud music. In some cities, neighborhoods, and buildings, short-term rental activity is prohibited, which means pissing off the neighbors can have catastrophic consequences for your host. For the traveler, reasonable limitations are understandable, but let’s dispense with Puritanical writs and curfews. A brief pre-game or shady nightcap with friends is a reasonable expectation.
If you suffer any uncertainty as a host or guest, common sense and courtesy prevail. As with anything in life, slight discomfort in the pursuit of pleasure is always recommended.