Crowd sharing has come a long way in the past few years — what was once a niche that barely bothered hotel executives now has some of them angling to compete. Travel has seen its share of offerings — after all, what better time to try something new?
Airbnb — the favorite but plateauing?
I love Airbnb. It’s convenient, easy to use, and offers plenty of places around the world. We’ve stayed at Airbnb’s on multiple continents (and even hosted, for a time) and generally had a great time. Hosts are typically great about privacy and representing their property. It’s strongest suit is also it’s Achilles heel: that it’s just a platform that needs people to offer places at competitive prices. Fees and prices can make an Airbnb a less desirable choice than a similarly-priced hotel in some cases, and the not-so-occasional racism and nationalism shown by hosts makes the company look bad. Yes, the platform has cleaned up its act (supposedly) and put in more controls… and yet #AirbnbWhileBlack is still a thing…
Still, it’s our primary, go-to site for when we’ll be somewhere for 2-3 months. Stays of just a night or two, we’ll stick with a hotel.
Innclusive — because diversity is awesome
After having issues getting an Airbnb because of the color of his skin, Rohan Gilkes built a platform of his own. Hosts are required to be — wait for it — inclusive, and the solid boost of publicity went a long way to building a network of diverse hosts and offerings around the world. The name itself is clever, of course.
Worth noting: noirbnb.com offers a similar experience and mindset, albeit with a more limited selection of places.
Couchsurfing — alive and kicking
We’re slowly reaching a point where a cheap hotel has become preferable to sleeping in someone’s guest room and otherwise trying to get work done while making small talk. We used Couchsurfing occasionally while traveling through the US, and will definitely host when we’re in one place for awhile.
MetroResidences — a Japanese option to check out
Aiming at corporate travelers to Japan means the bar is set high. ‘Corporate serviced apartments’ is the buzzword here, and frankly I’m keen. No, I’m not ‘corporate’, but I do want many of the same things when I travel. Solid wi-fi, good workspaces, comfortable chairs, privacy, and climate control are all priorities; the hipster vibe and bespoke end tables are not. They also cover Singapore pretty well, just change the .jp to .sg and see a new country.
Oh, and of course they have an app:
If you’re traveling to Japan, you’ve already braced your wallet for impact (it’s not a budget traveler’s typical destination!), but there’s plenty to like once you logon. Bang for your buck, and all that.
Roam — the next evolution of crowdsharing?
With sites like Airbnb and Innclusive, you get a smiling host on the screen, even if you rarely or ever see them. Roam.co (and other co-living spaces of its kind) often have professional managers tasked with keeping things in order. Between securing seven figures in funding and gathering momentum as they revamp properties, I can’t help but wonder if this is the future of crowdsharing. It’s like a hostel in that it’s shared living, but the price point means your companions are unlikely to be unwashed backpackers.
By yourself, you get what you can afford. Pool that with other travelers, and the sky’s the limit. It’s definitely on the luxury side as prices go, but that also reflects the locations (San Francisco, Miami, London, Tokyo, and Bali).
For almost every night in 2017, we’ve stayed in a crowd-shared apartment. Crowd-sharing is alive and well, and it’s only going to get bigger as more people choose to live the nomadic lifestyle.
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Also published on Medium.