One of my cooperative mentors, who happens to head the largest church NGO in the Philippines, had this useful, easy-to-remember line:
A cooperative version of everything.
Easier said than done. But not for lack of trying. I've seen these efforts happen in my country over a period of 20 years. Might be short as far as comparable cooperative lifetimes go, but long enough.
I am a fan of startups. Paul Graham is a heck of a teacher in business and technology. From his writings, I mean, wow. Undeniably brilliant. So with the raft of innovators who came out of Y Combinator and Silicon Valley, in general. Like Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation platform.
It was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. The company's name was inspired by the fact that the founders rented out air mattresses in their living room to pay their rent.
Airbnb has over 6 million listings in over 220 countries and territories. It has hosted over 1 billion guests since it was founded. The most expensive Airbnb listing is a villa in Beverly Hills, California, that rents for $75,000 per night. The cheapest Airbnb listing is a room in a shared apartment in Budapest, Hungary, that rents for $3 per night.
Airbnb has been criticized for its impact on housing prices, especially in major cities. It has also been criticized for its lack of regulation, which has led to some hosts renting out illegal properties.
Still, just like many cooperators, I use Airbnb. Mea culpa. Easy, convenient, useful. But how many have heard about its almost-namesake, Fairbnb? I have, but I haven't used it. Maybe its time.
Journey with me as I study Fairbnb thru the lens of what I know of and my experience with Airbnb. Here we go!
Similarities between Airbnb and Fairbnb:
- Short-Term Rentals: Both Airbnb and Fairbnb are online platforms that facilitate short-term rentals of accommodations, ranging from apartments and houses to unique properties like treehouses and castles.
- Global Reach: Both platforms operate internationally, connecting hosts and guests from around the world, allowing travelers to explore diverse destinations and experience local cultures.
- User Reviews and Ratings: Both Airbnb and Fairbnb provide a system for guests to leave reviews and ratings for their hosts, and vice versa. This feedback system helps build trust and accountability within the community.
- Online Booking and Payment: Both platforms offer online booking and payment processing, making the booking process convenient and seamless for guests.
- Host Profiles: Both platforms allow hosts to create profiles, provide information about their properties, and showcase photos to attract potential guests.
- Guest Profiles: Guests can create profiles on both platforms, which include personal information, reviews from previous stays, and other details to help hosts make informed decisions.
Differences between Airbnb and Fairbnb:
- Mission and Values:
- Airbnb: Primarily focuses on offering accommodations for travelers, with a profit-driven business model.
- Fairbnb: Emphasizes ethical and sustainable tourism, supporting local communities and advocating for fair practices in the sharing economy.
- Community Impact:
- Airbnb: While it has positively impacted hosts and guests, concerns have arisen regarding its impact on housing availability and local communities in popular tourist destinations.
- Fairbnb: Puts a strong emphasis on supporting local communities and reinvesting a portion of its profits into community projects, aiming to mitigate negative impacts of tourism.
- Ownership and Governance:
- Airbnb: Operates as a for-profit company, with its primary goal being revenue generation for shareholders.
- Fairbnb: Operates as a cooperative, where users have a say in the platform's policies and decisions, aligning more closely with a community-driven and democratically governed approach.
- Fees and Pricing:
- Airbnb: Charges hosts and guests service fees for using the platform, with pricing determined by market demand.
- Fairbnb: Charges hosts a commission fee and might offer a subscription model for hosts committed to ethical practices. A portion of its revenue is reinvested in community projects.
- Transparency and Impact:
- Airbnb: While it offers a wide range of accommodations, it has faced criticism for the lack of transparency in pricing and its impact on local communities.
- Fairbnb: Focuses on transparency, ethical practices, and making a positive impact on local communities through sustainable tourism initiatives.
- Regulations and Compliance:
- Airbnb: Has faced regulatory challenges in various jurisdictions due to concerns about housing availability, taxation, and adherence to local laws.
- Fairbnb: Positions itself as a platform that collaborates with municipalities, advocating for fair regulations and responsible tourism.
While both Airbnb and Fairbnb are online platforms for short-term rentals, Fairbnb differentiates itself by its commitment to ethical and sustainable tourism, community impact, and cooperative ownership. These differences reflect a broader shift in the sharing economy towards platforms that prioritize social responsibility and positive community outcomes.
Here's a breakdown of Fairbnb's business model:
1. Platform Fees:
Fairbnb charges hosts a commission fee for every booking made on the platform. This fee contributes to the platform's operational costs and further development.
2. Subscription Model:
Fairbnb offers a subscription-based model for hosts who are committed to its ethical and sustainable principles. Hosts who opt for the subscription pay a monthly or annual fee to access additional features and benefits, such as enhanced visibility, priority support, and participation in community initiatives.
3. Guest Service Fees:
Guests who book accommodations through Fairbnb pay a service fee, which covers the platform's operational costs, customer support, and the implementation of sustainable tourism projects.
4. Local Contribution:
Fairbnb differentiates itself by allocating a portion of its revenue to community projects and initiatives in the areas where it operates. These projects are aimed at addressing the needs of the local community and enhancing the positive impact of tourism.
5. Partnerships and Collaborations:
Fairbnb collaborates with local organizations, NGOs, and municipalities to promote responsible tourism and support community development. These partnerships may include joint marketing efforts, co-hosted events, and collaborative projects aimed at promoting sustainability.
6. Social Impact Investments:
Fairbnb might seek investments from impact investors, social impact funds, or philanthropic organizations that align with its mission. These investments can fuel the platform's growth, expand its reach, and drive its commitment to ethical and sustainable tourism.
7. Premium Services:
Fairbnb can offer premium services to hosts and guests for an additional fee. These services could include professional photography for listings, personalized travel itineraries, or exclusive local experiences curated by the platform.
8. Data Analytics and Insights:
Fairbnb can offer hosts and local authorities access to data analytics and insights about tourism trends, guest preferences, and economic impacts. These insights can aid in sustainable urban planning and inform local policies.
9. Crowdfunding and Community Support:
Fairbnb could consider crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds for specific community projects, environmental initiatives, or other causes that align with its mission. The platform can leverage its engaged user base to support these campaigns.
10. Sponsored Content and Partnerships:
Fairbnb could collaborate with ethical brands, organizations, or initiatives that align with its mission. These partnerships can involve sponsored content, co-branded campaigns, or exclusive offers for Fairbnb users.
11. Educational Workshops and Events:
Fairbnb can organize workshops, webinars, and events related to sustainable tourism, responsible hosting, and community engagement. Hosts and guests may pay a fee to attend these educational sessions.
12. Licensing and Consultation Services:
Fairbnb could expand its offerings to provide licensing and consultation services to municipalities and organizations interested in adopting its ethical tourism principles. These services can generate revenue while promoting responsible tourism practices.
Fairbnb's business model revolves around generating revenue through host and guest fees, subscription models, and collaborations while dedicating a portion of its income to support community projects and sustainable tourism initiatives. This innovative approach positions Fairbnb as a socially responsible platform that strives to make a positive impact on both travelers and local communities.