From Mansions to Gardens. Would you want someone staying at your place?

Just back from an amazing holiday where we tested different forms of P2P accommodation. In doing so, I learned more about the people renting their places and to what degree it is part of the “collaborative economy”. Here is my “Dummies guide to Airbnb, Camp dans mon jardin” and P2P accommodation generally.

People who want to share their space

If you owned this place (not the exact place where we stayed though not far off …), would you rent it on airbnb?

For our first experience, we tagged along with friends so didn’t choose the place ourselves or have the initial contact with the owners. This was the mansion. 9 rooms, all en-suite, air-co, pool, huge garden, super equipped kitchen (s) etc… Amazing. What I found even more amazing is that they would rent it on Airbnb. Of course, renting houses has existed well before Airbnb but generally you would have to pay a huge deposit, sign lots of paperwork and probably pay a much higher price. The people who owned the mansion we stayed in clearly didn’t need the money. Their motivation is that they have an enormous house which they don’t use much during the summer as it’s too hot there and they have other homes they can use! I met them and they were lovely people. They clearly enjoyed meeting the guests, showing them around and even trusted us so much that they offered us access to the wine in their cellar.

This for me is close to the values I believe are behind the collaborative economy. Re-use of space, respect for other people’s possessions, trust and of course being in contact with the people who live there.

People who want the money

Let me jump to our last experience. Meet my host, a safe deposit box !!! Though the system for giving access to the apartment was very efficient and hassle free, its hard to see where20150710_105835 the “collaboration” is.

I got the distinct impression that this person was most attracted by the fact that he can earn up to 2-3kEUR a month renting on Airbnb as opposed to probably 700/mth renting to tenants.

I did have the opportunity to meet him, as there were a few issues with the apartment which required his presence. He was friendly as you would expect him to be towards a paying customer. This was clearly a place he never lived in (and probably never will) and where the less contact he has with the guests the better. He’s a busy man as he has lots of similar places rented and this he manages as a business in the same way an estate agent would.

I proclaim that this category are not part of the collaborative economy. I’m not saying its bad as people rent places for money all of the time but they should be declaring it!

People who want the money and re-use the space

After the luxury of the mansion, we went for an entirely different experience and decided to camp in some bodies garden via this platform http://www.campedansmonjardin.com . It came with shade, goal post, swing, tree house and best of all (though not in the picture), SWIMMING POOL.Collaborative economy Camp in my gardenOur host (Patrick) and his family lived in the house while we were there and the bathroom was their bathroom so this is on a different scale of “collaboration”. It’s not for everyone’s liking I must admit but there were lots of positives.

Patrick is a local postman which means he knows everyone and everywhere in the region and that made him a great guide for us while we were there. He has 3 grown-up kids which means 2 things:

  1. more space at home as they are away at university
  2. lots of bills to pay to get them through college

This is why he was motivated to transform the space into income. He will not get rich in doing so but it will certainly help with the college bills. This for me is very much part of the collaborative economy. Inviting people into your home (garden), interacting with them, helping them, sharing with them in exchange for a modest amount of money so that space gets reused. From the point of view of the guest, we went to a village very few tourists would go to. We ate in their pizzeria, shopped in their local shop and generally contributed to the local economy. We also visited places we probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise, thanks to the local advise. It was rustic but also authentic.

So there you have it, my guide. Not all P2P involves collaboration. Relationships, contributing to the local economy and re-use of resources are all important factors. If it is just about having a cheaper holiday or getting rich by charging 3keur/mth rather than 1k. That’s not collaboration.

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