I don’t know why but the idea of Airbnb’s business model is
nauseating. On the face of it, Airbnb sounds like a sustainable way to
utilize free space and from an efficiency perspective, I’m a big
believer in resource-sharing.

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Cities around the world have programs
for car-sharing and biking-sharing, which I think are fantastic. But
Airbnb is not really about sharing resources or being environmentally
friendly. Airbnb is about capitalism, greed and profit. It’s like eBay
but members are not like those who sell their used, unwanted things
for a bargain. They’re more like those eBay sellers who run a business
to make money.

Members of Airbnb will often rationalize why they support “hosting”
with this system. One common thread is that they enjoy meeting
interesting people. I find that laughable. That’s like saying a
prostitute works for the social activity. Of course, this is a
slightly different example. With Airbnb you don’t always get a happy
ending. The fact remains though that when money changes hands, the
dynamics are very different. That’s why just because you can make
money, doesn’t mean you should.

For example, how would it work if you become great friends with your
guest? If you wanted to go visit them in their country, would you need
to pay them for their room? How about if you got along really well and
something romantic occurred? Would you still collect payment at the
end of their stay? And tell me again, how this does not resemble
prostitution?

Then there’s the ethics. I find it quite fitting that this company
spammed its way to a a billion dollar valuation.
Some may consider it shrewd marketing but I think it just represents
what Airbnb is all about: greed.

“Real hospitality is about unconditional generosity.”

But is it really a bad thing to want to make a bit of extra cash from
your free space? Of course not. But when everything becomes about ways
to make money, you begin to lose your humanity. In a way, I’m glad for
the existence of Airbnb. It will draw unsavoury people away from
hospitality networks, the ones who feel they need a tangible reward
from hosting. Rather than having to demand gifts or services for
hosting, they can now plainly state a price and cut straight to the
chase. They never got Couchsurfing anyway. Real hospitality is about
unconditional generosity.

Perhaps the people behind Airbnb were just smart enough to realize
that if Couchsurfing could become mainstream, so could it’s
antithesis. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time when systems for
renting out anything for profit become conventional tools, from your
office space to your car to your stuff, maybe even
your friends and your body. Goodbye humanity.

Roy

Roy is a perpetual traveler. He’s lived in 7 countries, traveled to 40+ more and right now usually works on a cruise ship. He also likes to contradict and talk about himself in the third-person. You can follow his travels on cruisesurfingz.com.