There’s not doubt years of recession and economic crises, job losses and retrenchments, business rescues and businesses going bust have led to innovations borne of desperation.
Ways of working are changing, the numbers of freelancers and contractors are increasing, and people are looking at their assets and hobbies as a means of earning an income, or even supplementing it.
Property, of course, springs to mind. Granny flats are a major trend around the world with homeowners either living in their cottages and renting out their homes, converting outbuildings into income-generating spaces or letting their flats to boost their bottom line. In the United Kingdom there is a reported upswing in the numbers of pensioners, in particular, and homeowners in general, taking in boarders, especially in university towns where student accommodation is tight
So it’s no wonder that in keeping with the growth of the shared economy, powered by technology, the holiday rental market is booming, much of it driven by Airbnb. The company, launched in San Francisco but with an increasing global presence – ok, 34 000 cities in 190 countries, which is pretty big – is built on ‘hosts’ sharing their spaces. It bills itself as a “community built on sharing”. From rooms in their homes to whole houses, magnificent apartments, B&Bs, shared rooms and garden flats to second homes or holiday houses, owners can make some money out of their property asset/s.
Airbnb “verifies personal profiles and listings, maintains a smart messaging system so hosts and guests can communicate with certainty, and manages a trusted platform to collect and transfer payments”. And all of it is done on a website.
Johannesburg and Cape Town are the biggest cities for Airbnb in South Africa, but business is growing at a whopping 138% a year, the company says.
So clearly we’ve embraced Airbnb in South Africa and I embraced it this week, signing up and creating a profile to see how it all worked. The first thing that caught my eye was that over 20 400 people searched accommodation in Cape Town last week. The next was I could earn R4 994.00 a week renting my extra space. And mine is nothing special. A spacious home close to the city and transport routes, with a fairly large and confortable spare room. No sea view. Only the tip of Devil’s Peak if you crane your neck into an impossible position. But central and good for a young person on a budget, I would think. So imagine what an ocean-facing flat, a lovely townhouse in Tamboerskloof or a cute cottage in Kommetjie within walking distance of the beach could earn. It’s worth thinking about, especially if you’re heading off on holiday and your home is available. Why not let it earn some money for you?
Oh, wait, there’s that little thing called security. In a recent episode of Chicago PD, a young couple listed their apartment with Airbnb but when they got back, their renter would not let them in. Turns out he’d bumped off his wife, hacked a hole in a wall, stuffed her in it and plastered it over. Okay, that’s a stretch, but still…
The reviews on the Airbnb site can tell you if a user – or host – is dodgy. With crime statistics as they are in South Africa, it’s best for users and hosts to do their homework.
Airbnb stands by its verification methods. “There are detailed user profiles, online and offline ID verification, social network integration, reviews of both host and guest, and 24/7 customer service,” says general manager for Middle East and Africa, Nicola D’Elia. “These features are available to all users worldwide. In addition, Airbnb offers a $1-million host guarantee scheme in some markets, including South Africa and Kenya.”
Nevertheless, it’s probably a good and pragmatic idea to ensure things beloved to you, or that are valuable, are not only insured, but also safely stashed away off-site. And you know which door-to-door storage service can make that happen for you in the shortest space of time, without you having to leave your home. SpaceBox is ready for the holiday season!