Monday, 11 March 2013

Digital keys - what the sharing economy needs to go into hyperdrive

Why pay through the nose for something when you can rent it more cheaply from a stranger online? This is the premise for the 'sharing economy'. Other terms being thrown around for this relatively new phenomenon (well its around 4 years old now) include, "collaborative consumption", the "asset-light lifestyle", the "collaborative economy", "peer economy", or "access economy". What the share economy is missing right now is "affordable and convenient access control" or "digital keys". With digital keys the sharing economy would go into hyper-drive.

The sharing economy darling - Airbnb

The sharing economy's hyper-drive will begin with it's darling 'Airbnb'. For all those who have been living in a "non-sharing" economy over the last four years, Airbnb is a 'vacation rental site that allows travelers all over the world to book stays in other people's apartments and homes'.

Airbnb just became bigger than the Hilton - although most people probably weren't aware of this, let alone even heard of Airbnb. During 2012 Airbnb reached some massive milestones - they hit 10 million nights booked, and they are currently filling more room nights than the Hilton Hotel chain. According to Airbnb, they currently have around 300,000 rooms available in 192 countries.

Referring to this graph above, it could easily take an ever sharper exponential rise if the sharing economy simply become aware of, and adopted 'digital keys'.

Here's why - as we just said, 300,000 people have now taken the plunge and are renting out their spare room or house on Airbnb. In Airbnb land, these people are called "hosts". The strangers who stay at their houses are called "guests".

Airbnb - ultimate piece of mind?

300,000 hosts are being paid for renting out their accommodation regularly to guests, but are they getting 'piece of mind'?.

By handing out their keys to total strangers, ah I mean, 'guests', on a weekly basis, hosts constantly expose themselves to the risk of future attacks and break-ins. Any one of those 'guests' can simply go to the local hardware store during their stay, and, for a couple of bucks they can get a key cut of the host's house front door, and let themselves in at any time in the future. And there has certainly been a few very well documented cases of Airbnb hosts houses being broken into - e.g see here.

After this well documented viral 'host attack story' mid last year, Airbnb bumped up the property insurance for hosts from $50,000 to $1,000,000. Airbnb calls this "Ultimate Piece of Mind".

But is this really 'ultimate piece of mind?'. Is 'ultimate piece of mind', knowing that your front door could be opened at any moment, when you are away or at home?
Is 'ultimate piece of mind', having to 'replace sentimental value items' after a break-in?
Is 'ultimate piece of mind' knowing you could have to go through the entire 'exhausting and draining' insurance claim process at any moment?
We think not.

Ultimate piece of mind will only come with 'digital keys'. Digital keys are just like keycards in hotels. And just like a front desk-receptionist in a hotel, a host can easily make a digital key and give it to their guests. At the end of the stay, the guests digital key (just like the hotel keycard) no longer works.

But unlike getting a hotel keycard, which can sometimes take ages to get your hands on (for example you might have to line up and then fill out the forms at the reception desk), digital keys only take seconds to make and you distribute them on your smartphone (via SMS or email).

And with digital keys, the host can be anywhere in the world to make them. And the guests can be anywhere in the world to receive them.

Digital keys are a win-win situation for hosts and guests alike. Guests can also appreciate the convenience of not having to make complicated arrangements to meet hosts (or their nominated metal key droperofferers!)

For around one or two nights accommodation (i.e for under $200) you can buy a digital keys device (including smartphone app). Digital keys comes with "ultimate piece of mind" as a "free added bonus".

If the word got out to the 'non sharing' economy members that they could get real "ultimate piece of mind" for less than a couple of hundred dollars with a digital keys(app and device), then it wouldn't take long for the number of Airbnb hosts to reach millions, and start overtaking all of the leading hotel chains in room size and bookings per night.

Perhaps you know someone who rents out their house or room on Airbnb and would appreciate learning about 'digital keys?' - then why not forward this blog on, or tell them to get in touch with us @chooseleapin

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