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If You Can’t Beat Them… Embracing the Sharing Economy - Guest Post by Yoni Passwell

Bike-sharing_rack_in_Beijing假如你无法击败他们…… The market constantly introduces innovation in the urban space, especially when it comes to tourism. Companies like AirBnB, Uber and others promoting the new sharing economy, are changing the way travelers consume products, while constantly challenging the city infrastructure. While formerly a city could control zones and locations of hotels, identity of cab drivers and health codes in restaurants, new models break all these assumptions and create challenges for cities trying to protect residents and traditional businesses from these changes. But should they!?

The immediate response of cities facing the rising objection of hotels, cab companies and restaurants is to fight such innovations. After all, why should some businesses live on without needing to pay taxes and withhold rigorous regulation, while others need to withhold high standards enforced? This is creating an unfair advantage.

But what if!? What if instead of battling in the courts and trying to ban new economic change, a city would actually embrace and encourage these initiatives? Wouldn’t that be cool!? After all, cities are failing miserably in containing the above phenomena, and every victory in court is translated to more publicity and wider spread of the sharing economy.

How can a city win? The answer is simple, if you can’t beat them, join them! Or at least tax them! A city can do it by legislating laws that support the activity and by providing the right infrastructure that is so needed. It can promote such a service through the local DMO (Destination Marketing Organization), all the way to providing additional supervision to house rentals and home-based restaurants.

For instance, instead of fighting private home rental for vacations in court, New York City could provide renters with fire safety and first aid training, making these homes safer for visitors. Legalizing short-term rental properties and defining them as vacation rentals, would allow the city to collect taxes on a nightly basis, similar to hotel room tax.

Municipal policy makers embracing new innovations and understanding that those are here to stay could benefit largely – both financially and electorally. By providing regulation that supports the sharing economy, a city can make life better for residents and guests alike.

City Venture is a new research strand currently developed by CIV, researching the relationship between the city and the ventures inside it. 

ND8_3564_editYoni (Yonatan) Passwell is the Co-Founder and CEO of Voyjer.com. Voyjer provides tailor-made travel planning by trusted local experts. The company solves the problem of finding the best things to do when traveling while avoiding tourist traps and not missing out on the best sites.

Yoni is a veteran of the High Tech industry. Prior to founding Voyjer, Yoni worked in companies such as Orbotech China, SanDisk & M-Systems, in marketing and sales positions. Yoni holds a B.Sc. from BGU in CS & Math and an MBA from the Technion.

Yoni is happily married and the proud father of 4.

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