It’s no secret that the “sharing economy” has stolen the limelight.
What may be a little less clear is – Why?
Perhaps it can be chalked up to be an inevitable societal development of our social tendencies as humans. Even Aristotle, the legend himself, predicted the collaborative business models that make up the sharing economy today: “Man is by nature a social animal… anyone who doesn’t partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”
Flash forward a couple thousand years and here we are: Smack in the middle of a sharing revolution, where individuals and businesses alike have their hearts set out on contributing to a collaborative society.
You are renting out a room on Airbnb, now, let’s get into how renting out a room on Airbnb has more social benefits for you than does listing your entire place.
1. Be a Smart Social Capital Investor
Simply put: Renting out a room opens up the table for social interaction. When renting out the entire place, hosts are expected to show face only upon check-in & check-out or by guest’s request, if at all. Generally, guests don’t reserve a whole property with the intention of maintaining personal contact with the host throughout their stay. On the flip side, renting a room necessarily comes with some degree of host involvement, regardless of whether that interaction is limited to small talk or goes as far as sharing a meal. And social interaction–on any scale– generates social capital (the value created by interpersonal engagement).
Take Airbnb. You might find a place to stay that’s around half the price of a hotel but also it’s giving you a social value – a unique experience. So [even amidst a] very banal everyday experience, you’ve created social capital.
Aside from satisfying our natural social inclinations, social capital is what makes the collaborative world go round. This is why social interactions are so important: they’re “intangible investments” in the sharing economy.
2. Smile… You’re on Airbnb!
Aside from social capital, interaction with your guests comes with a cherry on top: Happiness. Interacting with strangers simply makes us happier. (Maybe this is what Aristotle was getting at with the whole ‘participate in society’ thing.)
The best part about this is that the degree of interaction is irrelevant. In other words, even nonverbal communication with new people can be one of the biggest influencers of happiness. For one, the smile we tend to smack across our faces to be cordial when meeting new people is self-fulfilling. And something as simple as making eye contact with a stranger, along with the feeling of being acknowledged on the receiving end of that eye contact, can alleviate stress.
What does all of this mean for the benefits of renting out a room on Airbnb? It means that simply by virtue of being in the presence of our unfamiliar guests, both hosts and guests will be happier social animals.
3. Make New Friends
In a way, renting out a room is like inviting yourself along for the ride: you are opening up the table for you to share your guest’s experience. (This isn’t required, of course, but for the sake of going over social benefits of renting out a room, I’ll assume that gaining social value is, in fact, the end goal.) I’m not talking about plain old social interaction around the house, I’m talking about the opportunity to forge relationships.
Great hosts turn strangers into friends
– Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality and strategy
This opportunity can really be taken in any direction: from helping your guests plan their trips to joining them along their itineraries. The point is that sharing a living space for however long creates a potential to start a friendship that remote hosting doesn’t offer.
If there’s one thing to take out of this, it’s that simply hanging around could make a world of a difference for both you and your guests’ Airbnb experience. Besides, even if you don’t become best friends, you’ll be sure to add a smile or two here & there, while contributing to the greater [sharing] good.