When we go away these days, Glenys and I have started using a house-sitter. This way our doggie Duncan (pictured with his favourite after dinner toys) is looked after, our house is safe and we don’t have to send him to (and pay for) a kennel. The house-sitter gets free accommodation. We find our house-sitter via a website called Aussie House Sitters.
This got me thinking about what is called The Sharing Economy. The web is now allowing people to share resources in ways that just weren’t practical in the past. This means that we can all benefit and share our own resources.
It benefits all sides of the equation. Our latest house sitter, Jill, turned up yesterday with a gift for Duncan – because they share the same birthday (which was yesterday. Duncan was 6 and Jill quite a bit older, even in dog years :)).
Another example of The Sharing Economy is Airbnb. We have not yet used Airbnb, but after checking out what is available, and hearing from friends about their experiences, we are planning on giving it a go. (Probably at Queenstown NZ, one of our favourite places). Yes we will probably save some money. But also there is an element of social contact with your host that one may not get in a hotel.
So The Sharing Economy is doing two things: 1 ) it is making resources more available to others (and thus lowering the cost of accommodation or doggie care) and 2) it is encouraging people to make social connections that have value in themselves. As children and families grow older and become more mobile (e.g. my own family has now spread from Adelaide to Queensland and even to the UK), these social connections have value and pleasure in them for the social contact and joy that they can provide.
On the other hand these tools are also ‘disrupting’ existing industries (witness Uber and the taxi industry in conflict). I believe that hotels (for example) will innovate over time to meet this challenge. For example they may position themselves as a Luxury Experience, and not just a room for the night. Service may also be another differentiator for the hotel sector.
We’re also registered with Home Exchange. At this stage we have not had success in exchanging our home, partly because we can only travel for short periods. But I think this is a great option for people who are not working, and could dramatically lower the cost of your local and international travel in retirement.
What services in The Sharing Economy are you enjoying? Let us know in the comments section.