Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.
Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Welcome back to the podcast. This week we are chatting about the sharing economy. If you have used Airbnb, if you have used Uber, you have participated in the sharing economy. It's all the rage these days, and it's really changing the way that people use products and services. So, remember, as you listen, if you get lost, the transcript and vocabulary guide are on the website to help you out.
Paige: So, I think to start off, let's talk about transportation. If you've ever walked on the streets of Santiago, I think you can't miss all the Mobikes, the Las Condes bikes, the scooters now that they have. You can't miss em', they're everywhere. And I don't have a car here in Santiago, I am a teacher, so I go to classes all over the city. I'm a reporter, I have interviews all over the city. I love these bikes. I probably use a Mobike three times a day, depending on my schedule.
Paige: And, the beauty of it is because it's the sharing economy, I have no responsibility. I use my phone to unlock the bike, I get to my destination, I lock it. I don't have to return the bike. I don't have to use it again. I'm basically carefree.
Mariah: Right, so there aren't specific Mobike stations that you have to leave it at?
Paige: No, and that is the best part about it is it's kind of... when you need it, it's there, and when you want to leave it, you leave it.
Mariah: Interesting. Is there... I don't understand Mobike because I don't use it. Is there a certain limit geographically that you have to keep the Mobike within a certain geographic limit?
Paige: Good question. When I first arrived in Santiago, it was a very small boundary. They only really tested it with certain communities. So, you could stay in Las Condes, a little bit of Vitacura, a little bit of Providencia, and then it really expanded. I mean now, I could take a Mobike from here all the way to the city center and just leave it and go to my class.
Mariah: Nice, that's awesome. Right, I mean that's a huge benefit, a great resource. And, based on what we've read and our experiences, how we're defining the sharing economy today as we talk is: it's basically something where rather than buying a product or service, you rent it. And things like Airbnb and Uber are more peer to peer. Just a regular old person using their car and giving rides to people and making an income doing that, like Uber. Or Airbnb, renting out your own house. It's fascinating because it's not the classic company structure, and something that you're talking about with Mobike… you don't have to buy a bike, that's the whole point! Right?
Paige: And I think that is kind of our generation. We don't wanna own things. We want to use them for the time that we want it when it's convenient. I mean, when I do the math, if I bought a bike, in the long run it would probably be cheaper. But, if I go to class, I would have to buy a lock, maybe bring it into the building. I'd worry about it if it was on the street, maybe it would get stolen. Or, I'm only here for a certain amount of time - do I sell my bike when I leave? There's all of these questions, where if I download Mobike, I don't have to worry about it. I pay a little extra, but it's the convenience that I'm paying for.
Mariah: Right, exactly. Exactly. You're right. That is a huge characteristic of the sharing economy. I'm a big Airbnb fan. I think that it's totally revolutionized travel, but also, the people who rent their spaces, it's radical, right? The idea that you open your home to strangers, you know? And maybe you have an apartment, and you don't live there, but there are also a lot of situations where you do live there, and a stranger is staying in the room next door. But, the way that's made it possible for people to earn a little bit of extra money on the side or to base their entire income off of renting for Airbnb. It's incredible! And for renters, if offers this... in my opinion, a much more personal travel experience. I remember that I used to travel for work, and I would stay in these very average hotels where you didn't even know which city you were in because there was no personality. And, I asked my company, I said: "Do you mind if I use Airbnb instead?" And they said: "No, go ahead!" And I stayed with people. I stayed in people's houses, and I stayed in a person's house in Kalamazoo, Michigan and met their kids and their dog, and they fed me dinner. And, that's a totally different experience than an anonymous hotel.
Paige: I'm a huge fan of Airbnb. I think I've used it in maybe ten different countries and several states in the US, and I've never had a bad experience. And then I moved here, and I rented out an apartment, and I decided to switch roles. I was like, I travel a lot, I stay in a lot Airbnbs… why don't I put my apartment up for an Airbnb? So now I'm a host, and I think it's one of those steps where it's easier to stay in someone else's home... less at stake for you, right? You're staying at their home, but to put your house or apartment up for Airbnb is... you have a little more stake in the game. After a little bit of discussion, we said, we've never had problems, we've used it for six years dozens of times. So we have probably had at least ten different people stay in our apartment. We've had no problems. It's been a great experience.
Mariah: It's been a great experience. That's awesome.
Paige: And it helps pay for some of our trips!
Mariah: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. One other sharing economy that I was thinking about was dog walking services. So, there's an app called Rover in the United States, and I'm sure that there's an app here, where strangers walk your dog. You go, and you read their little profile, and you see if they're available, and it's kind of like Uber, right? Where, it's like, "Oh! Mariah is available to walk your dog at 3 PM." And you read the reviews, and if you think that Mariah's qualified to walk your dog, you let her.
Paige: I've thought of using it when I'm here because in Santiago, everyone has a dog. I mean, you go to the park, you walk on the street, and it's almost like you have this instant urge to have a dog. It's hard not to want a dog in this city. And so, I travel so much, my life is not really built for a dog. I wouldn't be a good, responsible dog owner. But something like that would be nice, where you get the enjoyment of seeing a dog, but you don't have to feel like you have to be home to feed it.
Mariah: So you've thought about doing one of those doggy care apps or dog walking apps and being one of the people that offers the service.
Paige: I thought of walking a dog, yeah. I feel like it would feel the desire that I have because I'm nowhere near being a dog owner with my lifestyle. And I don't have any friends that have dogs, that's the biggest problem. Maybe I should get friends...
Mariah: With dogs. Or you could participate in the sharing economy, walk dogs for other people.
Paige: What was interesting is I watched a TED talk months ago about the founder of Airbnb.
Mariah: Yeah! I've seen that one!
Paige: I love this example that he did with the crowd. He said that the reason the sharing economy system works is... I'll show you. So, he says, "Everybody take out your cell phone." So, everyone has their smart phone, which we all now nowadays is probably our most prized possession. It has personal stuff on it. You need it for your banking, your contacts, social, everything. And so, he says, "Take your phone, and pass it to the person next to you."
Mariah: He says: "Unlock your phone, and pass it."
Paige: Exactly. "Unlock it, and pass it to the person next to you." And everyone does that, and everyone kind of has this anxiety. But why it works is because you know how important that phone is to you, so when you have the other person's phone, you treat it with care because that's how you'd want your phone to be treated. So, it's kind of how this sharing economy works... if I'm walking your dog, I know how important my dog would be to me, so I'm going to treat your dog with the respect and care that I would my dog.
Mariah: Right. And it's all about the, he calls it the "well-built reputation system", right? Everybody has stake in the game because everybody's getting reviewed, and we'll talk about that on another episode of Coffee with Gringos: reviews and the power that reviews have. But, it's paramount to the success of these systems. This is a little shift from the sharing economy, but I think it goes along with this theme of these apps, and I know that we've talked about this before, Paige, but thinks like Glovo, like Rappi, where any average Joe or Jane can deliver something to your doorstep in a matter of minutes. I mean, these apps allow you to say... maybe you're baking cookies, and you get everything at the grocery store, and you get home, and you realize that you've forgotten butter. You can just go to the app, say that you need butter, and somebody will deliver it... not instantaneously, but so quickly! And that's a huge change. You're not asking a friend to do it, you're not asking a family member to do it... you're paying a small fee so that a stranger can do it. That's radical to me.
Paige: And CornerShop. I mean, that was a company that was founded by a Chilean. And that is the same idea. It's a little more open, where you can actually get a full week's grocery shop. So, some of our students, each week they have a list of all of the things they need for the week, and then CornerShop comes and brings them their vegetables, their protein, their cereal, their milk... everything.
Mariah: Exactly! For the whole week.
Paige: So, with these different apps, you really don't have to leave your house.
Mariah: And I think that what's fascinating about this is that something like having a personal shopper or a personal driver used to be something that was only for people with a lot of money, only for the elite, only for rich people. And now, we call an Uber, and we get in our personal car. We put our order into the app, and they bring us our groceries for the whole week. Suddenly, personal shopping, a car that picks you up at your doorstep, those are not necessarily elite things anymore. They come at a decently affordable price, and we can use them whenever we want. It's a strange change in the system.
Paige: Speaking of that, do you need some more coffee? Maybe we can order it on Rappi.
Mariah: Order it on Rappi, perfect.
Paige: It's definitely a changing economy that I use a lot.
Mariah: Right, right. I do too.
Paige: I think that we've become so individualistic, but now we have more confidence in sharing. At first we were kind of afraid, this is my thing... right, I don't trust you to use it. But with the sharing economy, we've become a lot more open.
Mariah: Yeah, and I think that one of the really neat things that that's generated is more trust in each other. I think that the reputation system of Airbnb, that reputation system of uber, y'know... Francisco is coming to pick you up, and he has a 4.99 rating and 1,000 trips. Yeah, I trust that guy to drive me around for 12 minutes! Y'know? And I think it's maybe reinstated some of that trust in each other that we lost along the way. I like that. So, next time on Coffee with Gringos, that's what we'll be talking about... reviews. How do we write them? What do they mean? Why are they important? And, they're great vocabulary to practice so that you can participate in things like the sharing economy too. Thanks again for listening, and we'll talk to you soon.
KEY VOCABULARY, PHRASES, AND SLANG
All the rage (phrase, informal) - very popular
Example: The sharing economy is all the rage these days.
Carefree (adjective) - without worries
Example: I use my phone to unlock the bike, I get to my destination, I lock it. I don't have to return the bike. I don't have to use it again. I'm basically carefree.
Rather (adverb) - instead of
Example: Rather than buying a product or service, you rent it.
Income (noun) - earnings, the money you make
Example: Regular people can make an income driving for Uber.
Peer (noun) - a person who is your equal
Example: Uber and AirBnb are peer to peer. Regular people provide services to regular people!
Revolutionize (verb) - dramatically change
Example: I'm a big Airbnb fan. I think that it's totally revolutionized travel.
Earn money on the side (phrase) - to earn extra money through a project different from your primary job
Example: People frequently use the sharing economy to earn money on the side.
Switch roles (phrase) - change positions
Example: Paige decided to switch roles when she became a host for AirBnb. She’d only been a guest before!
Stake in the game (idiom) - you have more invested, and more is at risk
Example: When you use AirBnb, both the guest and the host have a lot of stake in the game.
Nowadays (adverb) - at the present time
Example: Nowadays, we’re all connected to our smartphones.
Well-built (adjective) - well designed
Example: AirBnb works because it uses a well-built reputation system.
In a matter of minutes (phrase) - very quickly
Example: With many apps, you can have anything delivered to you in a matter of minutes!
Fee (noun) - price
Example: These days, we pay a small fee for sharing economy services to make our lives easier.