An influx of crowdsourced online lodging marketplaces reflects increasing demand for renting everything from couches
to tree houses
to manor homes
. Users value not only the money they save by renting an apartment rather than a hotel room—or, on the flip side, the money they earn
by moonlighting as B&B proprietors—but also the “local” experience of staying in a residential neighborhood while traveling.
: In 2007, roommates Joe Gebbia
and Brian Chesky
conceived the idea of creating a temporary bed & breakfast as a way to subsidize the rent
on their beautiful San Francisco apartment. Fast forward three and a half years and their idea is now a rapidly growing online platform—it saw nearly 800% growth in 2010
—with listings in more than 9,000 global
cities. Travelers can choose from a variety of lodging options (e.g., an entire house, a bedroom or even a couch), ranging in duration from one night to a couple of months. Demonstrating the community spirit the site strives to promote, Chesky spent nearly half of 2010
residing solely in the homes of San Francisco Airbnb users.
: The London-based version of Airbnb, Crashpadder was founded by online marketing exec/couchsurfing
backpacker Stephen Rapoport
as a response to the recession
. Drawing market intelligence from the people renting his own couch, he discovered just how resistant to hotels some travelers have become. Between the exorbitant rates and sterile environs, traditional lodging doesn’t always make sense, even for business travelers
. Crashpadder was born shortly thereafter. As with Airbnb, hosts are able to do some recon on the people they may host, as guests prepay with a credit card, thereby verifying both their identity and home address. The matchmaking doesn’t end there. The site’s Groups
feature facilitates connectivity between likeminded travelers and hosts, from surfers
One Fine Stay
: Not all practitioners of DIY lodging want to crash in someone’s spare bedroom. London’s One Fine Stay is the luxury version of Airbnb and Crashpadder. The idea here is less about saving money and more about living like a local—a well-heeled local, that is. Indeed, One Fine Day’s “unhotels”
boast decidedly posh interiors and offer amenities
like maid service and bell hops on scooters. Each rental also comes equipped with an iPhone
loaded with guides to both the house and the surrounding neighborhood, as well as access to concierge assistance. Although rates are on par with those of boutique hotels, at least guests don’t have to wait for room services when struck by a late night snack attack.