With the rapid rise of the sharing economy, government officials look to apply more regulations but that continues to take time. How can users ensure they are staying safe while using the sharing economy? How do I know my Uber driver will get me to my next destination safely or that my Airbnb host will not steal my wallet in the middle of the night? The answer is simple, you can’t. You never know who or what type of people you are dealing with but there are some precautions one may take.
As an avid user of the sharing economy myself, I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned along the way from my years of using it. Hope this can help put your mind at a bit more ease and put your trust in using other services.
Plan Your Trip Ahead Of Time.
You’ll be surprised how many people I know that plan their trips last minute. We are often so busy with work and what life has in store for us, that when it is actually time to take a vacation we tend to do so last minute as well. Finding any flights, any available place to stay Airbnb, or renting any car on Turo that can get the job done. Unfortunately for those who plan last minute, your options are much more limited. That can result in cities that may not be a safe location or a car that could be on it’s last leg. You don’t want to be in the position where it is your last option so you have no choice but to accept it.
While regulations for quality on those type of marketplaces are generally good, it may be a different story when traveling overseas. Believe it or not, standards are not as high in other countries especially when it comes to third world countries. The cost and resources simply are not up to par and not to forget, the culture. What may seem weird or unacceptable here in the United States, may not be the case there. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to plan ahead, search through multiple listings, and pick a few top choices. It’s always better to have options before making a final decision, especially when traveling somewhere you may have not been before.
Review Ratings Of Users Or Hosts.
By giving yourself substantial time ahead to plan, you can review the listings and more importantly the hosts. While the sharing economy helps build a platform of trust to use, you can never be too cautious. Just because they have a high rating on one marketplace platform, does not necessarily mean they will have the same success on another. Let’s stick with Turo for example, a platform that lets peers rent a car from other peers. A user may have a 1 star ratings due to their car breaking down or not keeping up to date with the maintenance. While that is unacceptable, what if they have a 5 star rating on Airbnb? How do you balance out whether you should rent from them or not? A simple google search can tell you a lot about a person, and having their first and last names can bring all the answers you need.
At the end of the day, you are possibly staying the night at a complete strangers home so take the time to find out more about your host. Check for social media, websites, or any article written about them. It’s important you take the necessary steps to stay safe.
Understand What Your Surroundings Will Be.
I admit I fail to do this at times as I simply judge it off the name of the city. If it’s somewhat close to my travel destinations it is typically good enough for me. The biggest mistake I make is making those assumptions. Take San Francisco for example. If you have ever visited or traveled there, you know it’s a wonderful city but there are certain parts that may be more dangerous than others. For example, walking alone at night down an alley way to get to your Airbnb or having to walk 2 miles from the local transportation system. These are things you must keep in mind before booking.
While Airbnb does not give the exact address until you have finalized your booking, you can get a general idea when looking at the map. Take a look at the streets surrounding and the district it may be in. Look to see what’s safe and what you are comfortable with. It may be worth spending that extra $20 a night in a different area for a piece of mind.
Continue To Stay Alert.
The sharing economy has become so acceptable to society that we just assume it is safe to use. We have no problem jumping in a strangers car when using Uber or Lyft or meeting up with a stranger to buy something off craigslist. What we fail to realize is that background checks are often NOT done prior to these users joining and all that is needed is a cell phone and a car. Not many requirements are placed in the sharing economy which is a good thing for equal opportunity but then raises the question of safety. There’s an old saying I like to live by, “It’s better to be safe, than sorry.” It may not be a bad idea for people using the sharing economy to do so as well.
How much can you really trust your driver, host, or seller? What makes it okay in your mind to move forward with your decision? While I am not against using the sharing economy as I am an avid user, but just what exactly goes through your mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below or share with us on social media. Happy readings!