4 Feb 2015

Sharing economy: how does sharing living work?

Sharing makes you happy – there might be no better explanation for the hype concerning the Sharing Economy. This time we will take a closer look at what role accommodations play in this sharing-context. Are there really more favorable rooms and overnight accommodations due to the Sharing Economy?

The Sharing Economy hype might easily convey the impression, that it is a new and fresh concept.

However, the idea was born a long time ago, because basically there is nothing different happening in a shared flat: a few people promise each other a certain level of confidence, share their living area and normally pay less rent than when living alone.

Especially, for younger people, who cannot or do not want to afford a flat of their own, this kind of living is really convenient.

The same can be true for commuters, who otherwise have to bear the costs of several flats. Everyone who wants to share living space in this way can advertise this easily on several platforms in the internet.

But what is the difference of this to Sharing-Economy-Platforms that deal with flat-sharing? And where does the hype for this come from?

The beginnings: Cheap overnights due to CouchSurfing

Foto: Yellow Couch + Yotei von studio tdes, CC BY 2.0, zugeschnitten

Foto: Yellow Couch + Yotei von studio tdes, CC BY 2.0, zugeschnitten

Even if the CouchSurfing-Network doesn’t attribute the Sharing-Economy description to themselves, it is also part of this movement.

Since 2013 the movement represents hospitality and offers their users the opportunity to stay on the couches of other users – hence the name “CouchSurfing”.

The CouchSurfing principle is really easy: Interested persons register and create a profile, which should help others to estimate the user’s level of trustworthiness. From now everything is based on agreements between the participants.

One further important aspect is that it is not allowed to charge money for this service. CouchSurfing targets hospitality.

Hence, CouchSurfing is not only agency platform for accommodations, moreover for friendships as well – sometimes transitory, sometimes lifelong. Often your host invites you for a sightseeing tour or dives into the nightlife with you.

The advantage of CouchSurfing: If you are not satisfied with anything, you can easily leave without losing any money.

The ‘high-flyer’ in the Sharing-Economy: Airbnb

Meanwhile Airbnb is one of the most famous examples within the Sharing-Economy, when you talk about living and accommodations. The motto is: “Find a place to stay”.

Landlords offer their home on the homepage; Airbnb users can book their overnight accommodation and evaluate it afterwards. This has the advantage for other interested persons that they can get a good idea what is waiting for them before booking.

Compared to CouchSurfing, you have to pay the amount of money the landlord fixes. A transaction occurs directly via the platform, which retains a certain percentage of the booking price.

Advantages and disadvantages go hand in hand: You have to pay, which help you to get a guarantee, for instance host guarantee. Therefore, the probability is low that you will find closed doors after your booking.

For quite some time Airbnb has been under fire, because some users are performing on a commercial scale, which for instance research from the magazine Monitor had shown. This possibly translates to: Tourists believing to stay in a private accommodation get in touch with commercial suppliers.

Of course, there is a wide range of alternatives to Airbnb where you can find an accommodation, like for instance Housetrip or Roomorama. Which supplier you should use depends on the housing offer at your destination and the contractual conditions.

Have you tried this before? What were you experiences and what would you recommend to fellow travelers?

We are looking forward to your feedback.