We’ve all heard of Airbnb, the popular accommodation booking platform, great for finding your ideal place to stay on holiday. However, despite the benefits like staying with locals, making your holiday more affordable and experiencing a more ‘authentic’ version of the destination, the ideas on which Airbnb and similar platforms were based, they are often criticised for the negative impacts they can have on a destination. Enter Fairbnb, the cooperative accommodation booking platform that ensures its positive impact on the communities by promoting and funding local initiatives and projects.
1. About Fairbnb
Promoting the idea to ‘Be the Change where you live and where you go!’, Fairbnb describe themselves as ‘a non extractive alternative to the current vacation rental platforms’. Created in 2016, the movement first started in Venice, Amsterdam and Bologna, with other groups soon joining from all over Europe. In 2018 the co-op was created to serve as the legal entity behind the project, and the Fairbnb headquarters are now based in Bologna, Italy. Fairbnb is a community of activists, coders, researchers and designers that want to put the ‘share’ back into the sharing economy.
2. The negative impacts of accommodation booking platforms
There are many advantages to platforms offering short-term holiday rentals, such as Airbnb. They are a great way to travel affordably and to have unique travel experiences and locals can supplement their income as well as share their culture. However, this model can also come at a cost to the destination, bringing negative impacts with it. It can drive up real estate prices, fragment communities and close local businesses, and in many cities, technology-driven tourism is making it harder for the locals who live there to manage their own neighbourhoods.
3. How Fairbnb is changing this
Fairbnb is an online platform that enables hosts and guests to connect for meaningful travel and cultural exchange, but at the same time makes efforts to minimise the costs this brings to the destinations’ communities. It is a community-centred alternative that ‘prioritises people over profit and facilitates authentic, sustainable and intimate travel experiences while facilitating the development of socially relevant projects within worldwide communities’.
‘we prioritise people over profit and facilitate authentic, sustainable and intimate travel experiences while facilitating the development of socially relevant projects within worldwide communities’.Fairbnb
4. How Fairbnb works
Fairbnb uses 50% of their platform fee to maintain its operations and the other 50% to fund projects in the communities people visit, giving guests the choice of which project they would like to fund, and both hosts and guests the opportunity to participate in a more equitable and sustainable tourism model. These social projects ensure social sustainability, countering the negative effects of tourism and enabling locals to vote to support the projects they want to see in their own neighbourhoods, from food co-ops to playgrounds, green projects to community cafes and much more. Through their platform, hosts and guests both earn and pay the same, but the benefits are for the whole community – it is Community Powered Tourism.
Collective ownership of the platform means it is owned by those who use it and are impacted by its use, such as hosts, guests, local business owners and neighbours. It is created and governed by citizens, keeping profits within communities and ensuring decisions are made for the good, not the exploitation, of neighbourhoods. Additionally, democratic governance makes Fairbnb a space where community members can work together and collectively decide how the platform will be run in their neighbourhood, as well as working with local governments to promote regulations that encourage sustainable tourism. Transparency and accountability are also key to Fairbnb. They are committed to open data and compliance with local and regional legislation, balanced with the privacy and security needs of platform members.
‘We invite all travellers and citizens concerned by the negative effects of unchecked tourism to join us in co-creating a community platform that promotes travel that is extraordinary… and ethical’.Fairbnb
5. Get involved
Whether you are a holiday maker or a host looking to offer your guests meaningful travel and cultural exchange, or someone looking to invest in a project that is making a difference, there are several ways you can get involved with Fairbnb. The platform offers a fair, collectively-owned and transparent alternative to other accommodation sharing platforms. In the words of Fairbnb themselves, ‘We invite all travellers and citizens concerned by the negative effects of unchecked tourism to join us in co-creating a community platform that promotes travel that is extraordinary… and ethical’.