New Book Makes Case for Airbnb to Thrive in Hyper-Regulatory World

As conservatives, we applaud and pay lip service to the ride-sharing economy and welcome it with open arms. We stand with the company at the federal and state level whenever they face regulatory roadblocks to operation. However, do we truly understand the importance of companies like Airbnb and what they do to bolster free enterprise? Not nearly enough. Hence why Resurgent readers should pick up a copy of The Airbnb Story by Fortune Magazine editor Leigh Gallagher.

I randomly stumbled upon the book on Twitter from a retweet by Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO. It piqued my interest because very few in politics have positively and objectively examined Airbnb for its contributions as a creative disruptor–given omnipresent opposition the company still faces from politicians, the hotel lobby, and so-called housing rights advocates. Here in Virginia, Airbnb faces an uphill battle — but not as daunting as the roadblocks placed on the company in New York City. I’ve used the service before for a May 2015 NYC trip and found it to be a cheaper alternative. Millions of others have used Airbnb during vacations and business trips to get a more affordable, cozy, and comfortable experience in the city they traverse.

Airbnb has achieved a lot of success since its inception in 2008. What I appreciated about Gallagher’s book was how fair and unbiased her take on the company was. Citing personal experience using the platform, interviews/interactions with company higher-ups, and seeking out stories of Airbnb users–both good and bad–she carefully but tactfully documents Airbnb from its bumpy start to its all-star status now.

Gallagher indirectly hints at a painful truth about most successful companies today: you must start from the bottom and work your way to the top. Like other profitable companies out there, Airbnb is the product of determination, hard work, and trial-and-error. Success isn’t attained overnight, Airbnb’s three founders realized. None of them had a hospitality background or formal management skills. Taking risks, Gallagher noted, comprised most of their strategy — and it paid off. Airbnb’s ascent in the world should serve as an inspiration to other start-ups and young entrepreneurs.

Moreover, Airbnb’s success can be attributed to personalizing and tailoring accommodations for people of all backgrounds, ages, and travel demands. Compared to overpriced hotels, Airbnb offers an array of  choices for travelers to stay at. As Chapter 3 “Airbnb Nation” notes, “Today the scope of Airbnb’s inventory reflect the diversity in the world’s housing market. Its three million listings are all unique, and the range of properties and experiences available is hard to imagine,” (59).

Here’s another important section that struck me about the company’s mission statement people tend to gloss over:

“The opportunity to show some humanity or to receive some expression of humanity from others, even if you never experience that person outside of a few messages, some fluffed towels, and a welcome note, has become rare in our disconnected world, (79).”

It is true. We live in a disconnected world, and yes, a very disconnected country where human connections are seriously–but not entirely–lacking. Gallagher notes how positive this facet is, however ambitious or unsuccessful Airbnb is at attaining this goal.

Gallagher went on to write that one Airbnb investor observed that, “Uber is transactional; Airbnb is humanity.” While you can have great chats with Uber drivers, Airbnb deviates from its ride-sharing compatriots by aspiring to be personal. I think both companies are unique and shouldn’t be pitted against one another. But Airbnb definitely aspires to bring something more to the table than Uber does. In fact, because of Airbnb’s success, the company is branching out to cater more to travel needs–with hosts offering personalized tours, trips, or classes in cities to offer guests more enjoyable experiences. That’s pretty neat, if you ask me.

Airbnb has brought more than a service or product to the forefront. It’s brought about a movement to “Belong Anywhere” as Gallagher notes in her book. How many services produce a movement these days? Very few. In spite of some of their overt social justice overtones, Airbnb is onto something–creating a culture and movement that empowers both consumers and home owners to make money, service others, and contribute positively back to the economy. I’ll admit, like the author notes, Airbnb is not for everyone. I certainly wouldn’t list my home there – but I plan to use them for some upcoming trips (especially those abroad). Many others will choose to be hosts or guests, and that’s a beautiful thing!

As Gallagher notes, Airbnb fits perfectly well into the ever-changing economy that’s trending more towards ride-sharing. Consumers are craving more choices–choices that should be afforded in a free market society like ours. If you want to familiarize yourself more with Airbnb, not only use the service–read Leah Gallagher’s book.

Virginia Company Aims to Increase Access to Great Outdoors

What happens when you marry love of the outdoors with a touch of Airbnb? You get companies like Outdoor Access, the Richmond, VA-based company all anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts should familiarize themselves with.

Outdoor Access, Inc., is an online marketplace for fishing and hunting properties that launched last September. Their goal? To make the outdoors more accessible and affordable for outdoor enthusiasts–especially those with kids. They work closely with private land owners to showcase and rent out their properties. Despite launching in September, the company is seeing immense success with their intended audiences.

This is a new avenue in the outdoor industry that hasn’t been done before. With the rise of the gig economy and ride-sharing, companies like Outdoor Access should be welcomed with open arms.

In an exclusive interview with The Resurgent – with video to be published shortly – co-owner Buck Robinson said his company is all about affording choice and opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

“In our model, landowners are able to make their properties available on a fractional basis for a day, a weekend, or a week for any variety of outdoor recreation,” Robinson said.

The East Coast doesn’t have much of public lands like the Western United States does. Recognizing this, Buck and his team realized why not make extend access to outdoor opportunities through a service like theirs?

“Sometimes the public option is not exactly the ideal outdoor experience,” Robinson said.  “We wanted to create a platform that utilized private land but also doesn’t require you to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a traditional club or something along those lines.”

Even Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe recognized Outdoor Access, Inc.:

Robinson said the goal of Outdoor Access is to provide an immediate clearinghouse to find properties. The company, he said, has immediate plans to expand to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and even as far south as Florida. Their goal is to be national within a few years.

Members must submit to a comprehensive background check before using the platform. Below is a sampling of their prices (screen shotted for you from their website):

 

Memberships are valued at $9.99/month and $99.00/year. Additional charges for property rentals may apply but average about $35 for daily use. How about that? Time in the outdoors at a reasonable cost–something our readers will enjoy discovering.

Stay tuned for our exclusive video with Outdoor Access’ Buck Robinson to learn more about this great new online marketplace. In the meantime, follow Outdoor Access, Inc. on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Alexandria and Austin: A Tale of Two Cities

Two well-known cities run by leftists that ironically invite innovation have made the news recently. One (Alexandria, Virginia) is being applauded for enacting actual progress, the other (Austin, Texas) is being rightfully shamed for perpetuating regression.

Let’s compare Alexandria and Austin, shall we? They are both major cities dominated by Democrats on the city council level. (One-party rule, especially that which tilts left, is quite dangerous.) Oddly enough, both have fairly pro-gun and pro-carry laws. Both cities are historically and culturally important. The former has a population of roughly 150,000, while the latter has a population close to 900,000. Alexandria is just 15 minutes from D.C. proper, while Austin is Texas’ state capital. However, one city decided it cannot suppress innovation any longer–for now, at least.

The city of Alexandria, VA finally welcomed food trucks after much resistance. The city of Austin recently saw ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft pull out after residents voted 56 to 44 percent last Saturday to keep Draconian regulations in place. They lobbied $9 million and ultimately failed.

Alexandria has approved three of five proposed food truck sites. Here’s more about the ordinance:

The new ordinance will allow food truck vending from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm and a food truck may vend no longer than four continuous hours at one location. The locations are expected to have 4 parking spaces designated for food truck parking and that would accommodate up to three food trucks.

Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin citing the city’s ridiculous rules for fingerprint checks, data reporting, and vehicle identification, for example. Here is the reasoning for Uber and Lyft pulling out of Austin:

Officials with both companies have said fingerprinting requirements are burdensome and unnecessary, given their own name-based background checks. City officials say fingerprinting adds another layer of security and balked at the multimillion-dollar corporations seemingly writing their rules here.

How could a city in conservative Texas reject the innovations of the ride-sharing economy, yet a city in purple Virginia embrace it? It’s quite confounding.

Bureaucrats and cronies enjoy saturated markets because they control them and can easily root out innovation. Why? These innovations breed opportunity, prosperity, and competition–concepts central planners and crony capitalists greatly fear. In contrast, the standard options only offer a top-down structure, terrible service, and no potential to grow. Quashing the American thirst for innovation still has serious consequences. As a result, Austin will soon feel the wrath of free market forces.

For individuals who pride themselves as “progressives,” leftists and their crony enabler friends dominating city councils exhibit cowardice for discouraging innovation. Until more freedom-minded people are elected to city councils across the country, innovation will be threatened by big government and crony capitalism.