Thank you for writing this. I’m an Airbnb host and beginning to be involved in the ‘community organization’ aspect of their business. I live in a smaller city and as far as I’m aware the Air-micro-hotel phenomenon has not landed here yet. I host in the ‘intended’ fashion, of having a spare room that I monetize on Airbnb. If I didn’t use Airbnb, I’d still have the spare room for when family visits from abroad. As you correctly point out, the problem is really an unintended consequence. The idea was for homesharing, but the platform has been corrupted by capitalists. And with a business model of taking small percentages off each reservation, I can see why Airbnb was initially slow to realize this was a problem not a boon!
One other thing I find interesting about the informal economy is that at first glance, you would think it would be most used by people from lower income demographics. Whether it’s cheaper short term accomodation, cheaper transportation, or making a bit of money on the side, it seems that it should be benefiting lower income individuals. Except there are certain barriers to entry which lower income people are not able to overcome, like having an internet connection or smartphone, or being able to meet certain minimum standards, especially when the standards are informally set by the majority of white rich people who can afford to buy new sheets for the bed before they get their first booking.