Collaborative consumption services recognize that the roles of host and guests, producer and consumer, have become become blurred.
Collaborative consumption platforms such as Airbnb have revolutionized travel from the perspective of the consumer, transforming vast amounts of private residential space into bookable accommodations. But as more people let out their rooms on Airbnb and similar platforms, a new hybrid of producer and consumer is emerging. Startups are rushing to cater not just to the needs of guests, but also to hosts.
Flatbook, a service that handles bookings, storage and insurance for hosts renting accommodations for a minimum of two months, has expanded into 33 cities in less than three years. It targets people who plan to relocate for short periods for internships, foreign travel, or family obligations, declaring that “something as trivial as a lease should never keep us locked up where we are.”
Since launching in 2014, Flatbook claims, it has “contributed over half a million dollars towards summer dreams” in the form of rent collected on behalf of hosts. The service itself is free, and draws a profit from the difference in rent between a tenant’s existing lease and the higher prices that short-term renters are often willing to pay.
Others including City CoPilot and KeyCafe leave the booking process to hosts, but take the friction out of seemingly minor details such as key drop-offs and home cleaning for a small fee. City CoPilot wants to become the “doorman on-demand” for sharing economy hosts, charging $9.99 per key drop off, or $99.99 for a “complete turnover package” that includes cleaning, fresh linens, restocked supplies, and key exchange. KeyCafe charges a monthly fee of $7.95 plus $1.95 per key pickup for a basic key exchange service. In effect, these services allow professionals unable to stay home waiting for guests to manage rental rooms and properties from anywhere.
In the world of collaborative consumption, these services recognize, the roles of host and guests, producer and consumer, become blurred. Someone renting out their room on Flatbook is likely to be booking accommodations on Airbnb in their destination city, for example. All are 21st-century consumers who prioritize convenience, reliability and mobile access to services. In this light, Airbnb and the like can be viewed not just as hospitality companies, but as new “sectors” creating demand for niche services.
For more, read our trend report on The Circular Economy.
Image credit: Flatbook