The continued success of sharing economy companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway has led to a wholesale shift in city economics as more residents rent accommodation to visitors. And just as the pressure of media attention has forced city governments to reckon with the shift, other startups have stepped in to fill specific needs in the emerging ecosystem.
So what's next? It's hosts-hosting-hosts service called Can I Stay With You While I Rent My Place on Airbnb.
Yep, it's exactly like it sounds: it connects hosts to other hosts so that each can make more money renting out an "owner not present" listing.
Basically, this latest entry to the accommodation sharing ecosystem connects Airbnb hosts to other hosts in order to secure accommodation while a guest has rented a home/room. It functions quite simply: select a city and enter an email, and the opaque service will connect you with a willing host within 24 hours.
The service is based solely on barter - there's a suggested payment of a 6-pack of beer, karma or a reciprocal night for the host to stay at the other's home.
Other newly-minted services are startups like Handy, a cleaning service that scored a direct integration with Airbnb; BeyondPricing, which facilitates more accurate real-time pricing for listings; GuestHop, which offers check-in/concierge services; and Guesty, which fully manages Airbnb properties for hosts.
As the ecosystem grows to include the sorts of services that help hosts make more money, it's hard not to wonder if this is going too far.
Is this simply a demand economics kind of thing - hosts want to rent and guests want to say, so connecting hosts to other hosts makes the marketplace more efficient? Or is this a step too far, in which the full commercialization of personal space has pushed consumers into micro-entrepreneurs to the point where they would rather sleep on a neighbor's couch while a stranger is sleeping in their bed?
There's no clear answer, but as the ecosystem matures and expands, these are compelling questions to pursue.
Then again, shop owners and farmers have been renting out accommodation and services to travelers for centuries - when a traveler shows up, hospitality dictates that they get (and pay for) the best in the house, regardless of the inconveniences to the house.
In the meantime, Can I Stay With You While I Rent My Place on Airbnb?