This spring, I went to Chicago to help my sister move, and rented an apartment on Airbnb. It was fantastic – cheaper and much bigger than a boring hotel room, and three times more convenient. When I went to Paris with my husband, we did it again. We found a charming place near the Eiffel Tower that came stocked with madeleines, guidebooks and Nespresso.Parfait! We sent the owner a bunch of money through Airbnb (it takes a cut from both sides) and everyone was happy. We may never stay in a hotel again.
Back in Toronto, a lot of my friends swear by Hailo and Uber. No waiting in the rain for a taxi that never comes. You simply use your smartphone to hail a ride electronically. Your phone tells you how long it will take to come and even shows it on the way. With Hailo, you can pay with your phone too – no wallet required. Hailo connects you to regular cab drivers, but Uber can connect you to a fleet of people using their own cars. In the new world of the sharing economy, you can find a ride or a room any time you want it.
When you stop to think about it, it’s amazing. Millions of people are willing to take a chance on renting places they’ve never seen from people they’ve never met, and to be chauffeured around by unregulated strangers. They’re pretty confident that it will all work out, and it usually does. They don’t need a brand name (Yellow, Hilton) to reassure them.