Airbnb’s marketing still plays on the feelings of virtuous and adventurous sociability in the idea of a “guest” staying in a spare room of the “host’s” home. Yet, as Tom Slee’s superbly argued book points out, the vast majority of Airbnb’s business is now “entire home” rentals: self-contained flats or villas. Long-term renters in cities such as San Francisco are being forced out by landlords who see more profit in short-term Airbnb stays. Slee performs some very clever data research and finds out that the most expensive Airbnb apartment in Rome is one of several European luxury pads rented out by an American tech entrepreneur, who bought them with the proceeds of the sale of his last software company. The idea of “sharing” is as meaningless here as it is in Uber’s made-up concept of “ride-sharing”, which sounds as ecologically minded as “car-sharing” but actually describes a taxi service. Nor is any “sharing” going on with companies such as TaskRabbit, in which people bid to perform other people’s odd jobs.
To read the rest of the review, visit The Guardian.