Up and coming website AirBnB, which lets anyone become a bed and breakfast proprietor in much the same way that Couchsurfing let anyone host friendly freeloaders, was just profiled in the NY Times. Ever since I first became aware of the service and used it earlier this year, they have really been taking off. Their brand recognition and popularity with users is growing at a steady clip, and that’s essential with their trust-based model.

For what it’s worth, I found it a little odd to stay in a total stranger’s apartment while they weren’t there. Not all AirBnB rentals work like that, some of them are for rooms within a person’s home. There were two separate trust issues I encountered. One was that the owner trusted me to take care of her cat. Now, basically all we had to do was not purposefully hurt it, but I did start to question the limits when I found a hairball on the kitchen floor one day. (Have you ever cleaned up a hairball? They’re much nastier than I ever imagined them to be.) The other question was whether we trusted her – were those sheets actually fresh? Would she walk back in at some inopportune time? Luckily, we are nice people and she was a perfectly nice hotelier.

The bonus is my inner smugness I get to feel when people start telling me about this new site that they’re going to try using on their next vacation. I’ve already wiped up that hairball, my friend.

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