I just made my first booking through Airbnb; it is for a fine looking apartment in London, and the process was, for a techno-phobe such as me, relatively painless.
I had problems “verifying” myself - don’t you just love the vocabulary of the internet - but much to my delight this proved to be an issue with the Airbnb “app” and not an intellectual failing on my part. The host, or at least the property’s manager Jan (in Belgium) was great, and the booking made. Next time I will be quicker.
And more importantly, we have a fabulous-lookingapartment in Central London confirmed for four nights at a most reasonable price (for London) and the pictures, which have been judged by impartial reviewers to be accurate, look wonderful. C$360 per night for a family of four (when we are travelling), in a fine apartment in a central location seems pretty good to me.
I shall report.
I am unlikely to use Uber to get to the apartment, and because London is my home town, I may not engage a local guide through Tours byLocals, but one never knows. Travel has become much more intimate with these astonishing services, and in many ways, considerably simpler.
But my goodness, how they have upset the status quo.
And this, I find both amusing and a touch bewildering. Amusing because for most of my life, and those of many others, we have been taught not to waste; “waste not, want not” I was told (repeatedly). Do not waste food, not time, not emotion nor anything else within our control. And now we have the ability to share our unused capacity in a variety of genres, we are facing a wide and vociferous throng telling us that to share is wrong, dangerous and very economically short-sighted.
Well, I am not sure about this. I see the regulatoryissues of Airbnb being quite important, but not beyond the capacity of people to rectify through new lease arrangements, insurance modifications and potentially the broadening or retargeting of tourist taxes.
Uber face the wrath of a variety of established businesses, principally those who have paid significant amounts of money for taxi licences; these licences are expensive, and in some cases inflated by the fusion of the taxi-licence price and a concomitantly lucrative immigration business. In either case, purchasers of these licences should, perhaps, have been aware of what was happening in The Ether, after all, I am sure that many cab drivers have used Airbnb and other on-line sites themselves, and should have positioned themselves accordingly.
We live in a brutal era that has seen entire industries become obsolete and eliminated within very short time frames; we, wearing our “consumer” hats have driven the change that has negatively affected us when we don our “employee” hats.
It is a rough world trying to balance each side of the equation. However, the equation still exists, and new opportunities to “sell” surplus services are bursting onto the scene each week. They offer guides, rooms, electricians, plumbers, photographers, guides and virtually every other field of endeavour that one might need.
The regulation of Citizen Professionals will be interesting and for some time, a work in progress. The fact that the regulators around the world deal with the very services that they themselves find so appealing, will surely have an impact on the final outcome of these rules.
Uber, Airbnb, Tours by Locals are here to stay, and are an integral part of a travel program. They are tools that travellers and travel-professional alike should be embracing, and incorporating into itineraries. The danger comes, of course, when some of the more intimate on-line companies become absorbed into the behemoths of the internet world.
I think that many would be surprised to know which brands belong to the Expedia and Trip Advisor “families”. Successful on-line companies get purchased; this is life, and as more become part of the three or four major global drivers, the independence that we now have will be rapidly eroded.
That is the price, and that will be the cost. However, for now, make hay while the sun is shining, and just don’t give them more personal information than you have to!