One of my goals throughout this year of living in the Sharing Economy is to experiment with how the various sharing services can work together. In this experiment, I found a way to use the services of TaskRabbit to support my Airbnb microventure without having to pay a dime out of pocket for either service.
Sweaty Gear and Plastic Wrapped Windows
As I prepped to start renting my bedroom on Airbnb, I was faced with a pretty serious amount of cleaning. I spend most of my weekends outdoors so I have a fairly high tolerance for grime and discomfort in my personal living space. However, now that I’ll be sharing my room with paying guests I don’t think they’ll appreciate the smell of sweaty gear and the feng shui of plastic wrapped windows.
This is the general state of my bedroom (read: rock climbing crack house). My bed is awkwardly pushed into the corner to make room for the gratuitous amounts of outdoor gear sprawled out on the floor. Over 50% of the total items I own are pieces of outdoor gear, so it makes sense that they also occupy more than 50% of my floor space. To me this looks and smells like adventure, a constant reminder that the weekend is getting closer. The plastic wrap on the windows is a long story, but for the sake of my future guests I finally fixed the draft with a more aesthetically pleasing solution.
Using TaskRabbit to go from Sketchy to Marketable
Picking up my gear was easy enough, but my apartment floors needed a deep cleaning. Over the course of a week, I looked into several professional cleaners and their average prices were well over $100! For an easy job, I found this to be at the cost/convenience threshold where I would rather just do it myself. Also, I didn’t feel comfortable about any of the companies I researched because they didn’t have many reviews on Yelp so who knows if Joe Shmo Cleaning Company would be worth the $100 or not.
Then I went to TaskRabbit, a website that connects people who need things done with people who can get things done. It was my first time using the website and it was one of the best user experiences that I’ve ever had on the web. I was blown away with how simple and efficient the process was. Within one day of putting a solicitation on the website, I received 12 offers from individuals in Boston. I chose the lowest bidder ($60) because she had 14 positive reviews on other house cleaning tasks throughout the city (more than any professional company I saw on Yelp).
My TaskRabbit was enthusiastic, friendly, and spent three hours cleaning. Indeed, she did a great job but due to being fairly overweight, she couldn’t stand up on a chair to clean the tops of our windows. I might have been upset if a professional cleaning service had left with only cleaning half of my windows, but who really needs a professional service anyway? For me, choosing TaskRabbit was about time, money, and relying on positive reviews. I needed to complete this task quickly, with little effort, and on a budget. Professional services just didn’t offer this, so TaskRabbit was exactly what I needed.
Combinations in the Sharing Economy
One week after the TaskRabbit experience, I had Airbnb’s professional photographer come over to take pictures of the apartment. Airbnb offers a free photography service because it is in everyone’s best interest (guest, host and Airbnb) that the online listing looks good. The pictures came out great but there was a four-week delay between me requesting the photographer and Airbnb actually posting the photos online. After some digging, I found that this delay was due to a backlog at Airbnb so be prepared to wait. Also keep in mind that this service isn’t available in every city. If you’re not a photographer, I’d recommend recruiting a TaskRabbit and spend a few dollars to do a proper job. Avoiding sketchy cellphone pics will only increase the likelihood that a guest would book your place.
I get a lot of questions from friends about Airbnb like “What if they trash your apartment while you’re gone?” or “What if they steal all your stuff”. To the latter question, Airbnb has $1,000,000 in insurance that covers damage and theft. You can also warn other hosts by giving negative reviews to poorly behaving renters. These reviews stay with community members and will ultimately dictate their success as Airbnb guests. Therefore reputation is paramount and users of this service try very hard to keep up the good vibes. As for making a mess, Airbnb allows you to use a deposit that you can claim if your guests have abused your place. I require my guests to put down a deposit of $100 that would cover the cost of a basic cleaning on TaskRabbit and then some.
Ultimately, I plan to use my Airbnb revenue to cover my recurring monthly cleaning through TaskRabbit. Using these two Sharing Economy services to support each other means that I won’t actually end up spending any of my own money (read: from my day job). This will keep the apartment in tip-top shape, an overall win for everyone involved.