Promoters with Airbnb, the lodging website that allows you to rent out a room in your home or your entire dwelling as part of what is known as the "sharing economy," wants military families to get more involved in their company.
Experts there say that renting out your home or room short-term is a great -- and safe -- way to bring in some extra money on the side while also meeting interesting people. (Those wanting to rent out do have to be careful if they are trying to use Airbnb on a home or apartment they do not own -- or one with a homeowners' or condo association. Not all buildings or associations allow for Airbnb subleases.)
First and foremost, a little disclosure: I, personally, have traveled using Airbnb a number of times and have always had a great experience. It's been a wonderful way to find a cheap place to stay while I'm on some work travel while also having access to a kitchen of some kind. I've saved a lot of money using Airbnb instead of a hotel, and I've only had great experiences.
But I don't rent out my own home or a room in my own home. I won't lie -- it kind of makes me nervous. People I don't know in my home? I'm a big girl and I can totally handle myself, but I've got two kids. Do I want a stranger staying there with me and them? Or would I be more comfortable renting it out for times that we aren't around?
I talked to a few Airbnb participants, or "hosts" as the company calls them, to hear what they think about opening their home to these types of renters. One, a retiree, usually rents out just a single room in his home while he is in town. The other, an active duty Sailor, rents out a room or his entire home, depending on where he is or what's going on in his training cycle.
According to both of these guys, not only is renting out a room safe, but it's fun and pays well. They say because hosts get to pick and choose who they let in, they can vet potential guests based on the reviews that have been left about the guest by a previous host. If something makes them uneasy, they can simply say "no," just like guests can base who they stay with on past users' reviews.
"Most people on earth are a little queasy about the idea of knocking a complete stranger's door and coming in, and sleeping in a bed they've not slept in before," said Greg, a retiree and host in San Diego. "My view is that the people who are doing this are mostly folks who are really comfortable living their life in a trust network."
"Of course, there's always safety concerns, but I think Airbnb makes it very user friendly to a point that some of these people have reviews," said Shaun, an active duty Sailor who is currently also in the San Diego area. "I like when guests want to stay at your place and they tell a little bit about themselves ... You're not just clicking 'accept,' you kind of get a feel on them before they come stay in your home."
What do you think? As a military spouse would you rent out your home or a room in your home? Would you wait until your service member was home? If he's not home, do you think renting out during a deployment is an OPSEC or PERSEC problem? Tell me in the comments.