July 23, 2015
Last month, I booked a last-minute trip to Chicago to see my hometown Cincinnati Reds play. I went to Vacation Rentals By Owner and found an apartment near Wrigley Field that was comparable to the cost of a hotel—but with twice the space. The owner confirmed availability and emailed me instructions for paying and getting into the place.
Next I headed over to Craigslist, where I found a Cubs fan willing to part ways with two tickets. Entertainment details considered, I ditched my car and took the Megabus instead, which took me straight to downtown Chicago for $22—an absurdly low amount considering overnight parking in the city for just one night would cost me twice that.
When I arrived, I opened up the Lyft ride-sharing app on my smartphone and found “Terry,” a driver circling the area who was willing to take me to my new home away from home. He showed up in less than three minutes driving the same car that Lyft showed me in his profile photo. The only thing we exchanged was pleasantries, and there was no waiting for a receipt or wrangling with cash. When I exited the car, a notification appeared on my phone that allowed me to tip, then a receipt showed up in my inbox a few minutes later.
That’s a lot of sharing in one weekend. Lest you write this collaborative economy off as a trend, think again. What you should be asking is, are my policies ready for the sharing that my customers already embrace?