With regard to the spirit of enterprise and innovation, Airbnb is an absolutely brilliant company. Based on the simple idea of helping people rent their homes to tourists, the company's annual turnover has surpassed the $ 2 billion mark in its first 10 years and its services are available in almost every country on the planet.
But the immense popularity and benefits of Airbnb also pose a lot of problems. Many cities cite Airbnb as one of the main factors in the increase in housing shortages gentrification and other disruptive effects of tourism. This is why Sito Veracruz and his partners embarked on an ambitious quest to propose a better and more equitable alternative: FairBnB . .
"At first I was very optimistic about Airbnb because I saw how such platforms could spread the benefits of tourism to neighbors and communities," explained Veracruz.
"But I knew we would need appropriate limits and regulations to guarantee it, which unfortunately did not happen," added Veracruz. "What I did not think about how these types of platforms would be extremely profitable. I did not know that so many private players would participate in this game and when you see about 20% of users making 80% of the profits, you know something is not going at all. "
After years of development, the first rentals via FairBnB are scheduled to take place in January 2019 in four cities. TNW has maintained with Veracruz in Amsterdam, one of the pilot cities, to have a glimpse of how FairBnB plans to make the ethic of vacation rental and serve the local communities.
How is it more correct than Airbnb
For Veracruz, it is clear that the Airbnb model for holiday rental platforms is here to stay, which is why it is essential to provide a more advantageous alternative to local communities. According to Veracruz, FairBnB will be able to do so thanks to its three main differences compared to Airbnb.
"The first difference is transparency and legality. We are not only transparent, we promote transparency and we really want to work with governments, "said Veracruz. "That's why we have a strict policy: a host, a home. We also want to pay taxes locally and make the process as transparent as possible. Prior to the January pilot project, Veracruz and his team will also verify that each guest is legally allowed to rent their home in accordance with the law. local law.
"The second difference is that 50% of the commission will be used to fund community projects." Prices on FairBnB should be comparable to those of Airbnb, but the commission may be lower and its structure will be different. Only 50% of the commissions will go to the management of the platform, the remaining 50% being used to finance local community projects.
"We are currently looking for community projects that are struggling to find non-commercial spaces, which is a serious problem in many cities," explains Veracruz . "This includes non-profit projects such as housing for neighborhood associations, non-profit food cooperatives or community gardens."
The third difference between FairBnB is perhaps the greatest: "We are also conditioned by our third main difference, namely, that we are a cooperative. The platform belongs to a group of people who contribute to the project, the wages in the cooperative are limited and everything about the operation is transparent, such as salaries and manpower. "
At the present time, FairBnB belongs to a Workers' Cooperative which has eight members, including Veracruz, who are primarily based at the four pilot cities. However, the plan is finally to open the cooperative to the entire community:
"Our goal is to create a bigger" umbrella "and to include different actors in the cooperative. This would include local nodes, neighbors, investors and possibly the hosts themselves. The hosts would then be part of the cooperative and could vote in the assembly and choose people to represent them on the board of directors, "said Veracruz.
Give the community a voice and a stake in vacation rentals
The division of the commission between the management of the platform and the projects of the local community is a new and exciting idea, but, in Veracruz's opinion, this aspect of FairBnB has often been overestimated . For him, the greatest potential benefit of FairBnB is bringing communities together.
Emphasis is placed on donations to community projects, but it is a way to strengthen community ties. What I would like our guests to know and see in the future is that it is a community run project.
T The idea is to ensure that local communities work together and think about how they want to manage tourism, the effects of tourism and how they want to benefit from it. But also, that they unite to provide services – this is the next step.
Our goal is to create local nodes that will have some authority on the platform to define the lease criteria, boundaries and projects to be funded. But the next step – what we have already started here in Amsterdam – is to bring together interested people in an organization or cooperative to provide services to guests and hosts.
The services offered would range from cleaning to concierge services, including everything related to tourism. Veracruz believes that by grouping all these services in cooperatives, we can ensure that this is done in compliance with labor law and that the community itself would benefit from increased tourism – which is sorely lacking.
Veracruz adds that FairBnB does not prohibit for-profit rentals, such as purchases for rent. apartments because each community has different needs. Some cities are battling overcrowding while cities in rural areas risk losing their inhabitants and needing tourism to stimulate the local economy. FairBnB local co-ops are supposed to be tools that allow local communities to tailor their vacation rentals to their own needs, quickly and collectively – by giving residents an increased influence on the development of their community.
This approach is understandable as many communities have turned against Airbnb in their cities. This is particularly evident in Amsterdam where Airbnb rentals exploded as well as the pivot of the technology giant in the building ] a de facto hotel and local governments trying to repress rentals . But the legislation is evolving slowly and is not always in line with the will of certain neighborhoods. FairBnB's approach may therefore be able to avoid a gap between locals and vacation rentals.
FairBnB will start with a fairly basic structure, but Veracruz thinks it's realistic to expect a breakthrough in the market two years from now, with the help of the community: "Our growth strategy is based on local communities: work, marketing, etc.
FairBnB is expected to be launched in January 2019 and will be available in four pilot cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna and Venice. If you wish to know more, you can consult the FairBnB website for updates.