I’m going to admit it candidly, I’m a Starwood guy. When I travel, if there’s a Westin, Aloft or Sheraton wherever I’m going and it’s my choice, that’s where I’m staying.
Probably about a year ago now, I read an article on a tech blog about Ashton Kucher’s VC firm (yes, that Ashton Kucher) investing in a travel site called Airbnb. It basically allows people who have a couch, room or house to put it up for people to rent directly from the individual. Airbnb charges a nominal handling fee for their service and the hosts and guests can post reviews for one another in a very open fashion. Hosts have the final say as to whether or not not to accept a booking.
My travel needs usually carry me around the Midwest for one night or two night trips. Starwood isn’t everywhere or isn’t always available, so when they were sold out in Milwaukee, I used Airbnb for the night.
And it was awesome. I stayed with a couple in the spare room in their home. They had WiFi, a beer in the fridge, breakfast the next morning and a list of all the nearby restaurants and activities to do. On top of it, they couldn’t have been nicer people. I’ve since stayed as well in NE Indiana, Indianapolis, the Quad Cities and Madison. Each experience the homeowners have been wonderful to meet and talk with and I’ll go back and visit them when I travel back to their cities.
Funny thing is they do more business globally than they do in the USA.
I told our Canadian partner, Mike Carroll of Canusa Logistics, about it and he’s used it as well in Montreal, Minnesota, Tennessee and Michigan and each trip for him has been successful as well.
Even better, I feel like I’m doing a little something to help the micro economy along the way. You can check them out online at www.airbnb.com or if you’ve got an iPhone, download their free app.