Airbnb and Raleigh’s Shared Economy
There’s something funny about this to me. I met Jeff Tippett about seven years ago when I orchestrated a ticket giveaway on Twitter for a client. I think “community” was just becoming a social media buzzword at the time. While I’ve come to loathe its over usage, there’s not a more befitting term for how two communications professionals living in the same city met.
The tickets were for a non-profit performing arts group that many would consider a big part of our local community. I remember that night being hectic, as I went from the office to home to deliver the tickets just before the performance began. My son joined me for the ticket delivery, and we quickly met Jeff and his daughter who was about the same age as my son, before they rushed in to claim their seats.
Over the next few years, I bumped into Jeff a few times. We didn’t see each other often, but I felt like I knew him because I continued to follow him on Twitter. He was part of what I consider my first online (yes, I have to use it) community within my local community. It didn’t seem like there were that many people from Raleigh on Twitter at the time. In addition to Jeff, the early adopters as I remember it were Phil Buckley, Ginny Hamilton, Wayne Sutton and Evan Carroll.
Two or three years after the rushed ticket exchange, I had the pleasure of presenting with Jeff during a session designed to teach non-profits how to engage online communities. We met for prep, conducted the presentation and probably said we should get back together for coffee soon. Then we returned to our hectic lives as communications people.
Now, as a new kind of community has emerged, I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with Jeff. When I learned that he was organizing a town hall style meeting to facilitate discussion about the City of Raleigh’s concerns with Airbnb, I knew it was time for me to speak out about a community that I’ve proudly become part of as an Airbnb host.
Enter new buzzwords: the sharing economy. While this term will likely become over used too, for now, it is the perfect description of how I feel about my experience with Airbnb. The extra revenue stream that comes from being a host is secondary to the pride I feel as a brand ambassador to Raleigh. In fact, because our Airbnb guest suite is in the same house that is the home of Clairemont, we’ve created a team of Raleigh brand ambassadors.
We love sharing our office house and our beautiful, vibrant, fun city with our guests. There’s nothing better than telling them to visit ArtSpace, providing a list of our favorite Raleigh downtown restaurants and suggesting that they shop like locals by going by Stitch, Nora and Nicky’s, High Cotton and Deco. And that’s exactly why I asked Jeff if I could join the panel he organized on why Airbnb is good for Raleigh, despite the fact that our zoning will likely allow us to continue to host one way or the other.
Now, I have to use the word community again. In my twelve years in Raleigh, I’ve never felt a sense of local community like I did at the town hall meeting Jeff organized. There was so much energy and passion in the room. While most attendees were in favor of the City of Raleigh allowing residents to be Airbnb hosts, one thing was certain. Everyone wanted what’s best for our city. The pride was overwhelming and is what I believe makes Raleigh such as special place to live. It is no surprise Raleigh made Airbnb’s Hospitality Index.
As a shout-out to fellow expert communicator Jeff — excellent work in organizing live and online discussion around this topic that is important to our city as we continue to be recognized as a city of innovation and creative thinkers! While our officials continue to consider the future of Airbnb in the City of Oaks, you have facilitated healthy and productive dialogue in a way that few people are successful in facilitating. I’m happy to be part of your “community,” in every aspect of the word.