With the convenience of internet technology, travelers now have various online booking websites to choose from, such as TripAdvisor, Agoda, and the recent Airbnb. These platforms provide lists of accommodations for travelers. However, what sets Airbnb apart from its competitors is its focus on connecting travelers or users in need of accommodation with hosts who are willing to rent out their homes, rooms, or other unused spaces for a limited period. In simple terms, it is a more private way of accommodation that caters to the specific needs and budgets of travelers. Over the years, Airbnb has grown and expanded its market coverage from budget-conscious tourists to even business and group travelers, thanks to its consumer-friendly and flexible approach.
However, using Airbnb for renting accommodations also comes with some risks and drawbacks. For hosts, there is a risk of property damage, whether intentional or unintentional. For guests, there have been isolated safety incidents, especially at night, which are beyond their control and depend on the peace and order situation in a particular area. When guests make deals with hosts, they may not always be completely honest about their backgrounds. People may represent themselves as hosts when they are not the true property owners. These unpleasant experiences and other risks can be mitigated to some extent by using Airbnb’s safety features, such as identity verification, user profiles, secure payment platforms, host guarantees, and reading reviews from guests who have stayed in the property you are interested in.
Not only does the current commercial sharing system lack regulation, there have been cases of taxation avoidance. E.g. Airbnb hosts are controlled under a commercial agreement. In certain jurisdictions, the company outlines local occupancy taxes, but, in some cases, landlords can evade taxes.
Meanwhile, government agencies have been cracking down on laws governing short-term vacation rentals. However, the accommodation market is designed to operate in a grey area. As a result, each renter in the sharing economy is decentralized, and while Airbnb hosts are governed by commercial agreements, platforms are difficult to centralize, and individual merchants evade taxes on goods and services tax and capital gains tax. This will also cause confusion to some extent in violation of the law.
The companies have drivers take “a selfie, do background checks on us (and) collect all of our personal information” said Moreno, who belongs to a driver-led union called Rideshare Drivers United. “But we don’t know anything about the passengers or the people who we’re delivering to.”
A Pew Research Center poll in 2021 found that 16% of people in the U.S. had earned money from an online gig platform. That poll found that 35% of them have felt unsafe while doing those jobs, including 19% who said they had experienced unwanted sexual advances
Uber drivers in Australia earn below the minimum wage, without any contribution to their superannuation. Uber has total control over fares rates and takes 25 per cent of driver’s remuneration. Not only does the current commercial sharing system lack regulation, there have been cases of taxation avoidance. E.g. airbnb hosts are controlled under a commercial agreement. In certain jurisdictions, the company outlines local occupancy taxes, but, in some cases, landlords can evade taxes.
The on-demand business model has caused privacy and safety concerns for both customers and contractors. This type of sharing economy requires people to give up some of their privacy. When you request a ride through Uber or Lyft, you essentially request to get a ride from a stranger. When you rent out your house on Airbnb or VRBO, you are encouraging strangers to use your home.
By contrast, taxi and cab services must be licensed and follow consumer-protection guidelines that do not apply to ride sharing companies.
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Olson, A., Grantham-Philips, W. and Press, T.A. (2023) ‘it got me scared’: Delivery Workers are on Edge after a series of violent attacks raise questions about safety, Fortune. Available at: https://fortune.com/2023/05/01/gig-workers-delivery-drivers-attacks-violence/ (Accessed: 15 September 2023).
Thach, S. (2018) Uber and airbnb: Who really benefits in the ‘share economy’?, Independent Australia. Available at: https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/uber-and-airbnb-who-really-benefits-in-the-share-economy,11561 (Accessed: 15 September 2023).
10 questions on the sharing economy (2016) YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/-lnfuntnV08?si=QpSS4QvxeP_QsU25 (Accessed: 15 September 2023).
Publisher：Wangwei Fan， Jingyi Wang