What makes Damiano Avellino a Global Shaker?
Damiano Avellino is the co-founder of FairBnb, the democratically-run accommodation site that uses its booking fee to fund local community projects.
As per the name, FairBnb stands in direct comparison to Airbnb, which has built up a reputation for undermining and gentrifying local communities. The site that once seemed to help people make a bit of extra money by renting out a spare bedroom soon became the home for major business, buying up vast swathes of major cities and renting them out for profit. Anti-Airbnb movements have emerged the world over, urging local governments to protect communities as the local environments gradually change — replacing repair shops and butchers with upmarket coffee shops.
FairBnb styles itself as a new sort of short-term rental initiative that wants to completely rewrite the relationship between travellers and locals.
A cooperative since 2018, it has two main aims: To provide a cooperative alternative to the traditional home-sharing model, and to reduce the negative consequences of the current model, such as gentrifying communities.
Fairbnb operates a one host, one house policy, which prevents the “mega hosts that create more problems in the residential market” from entering the platform. A 15% fee is also applied to each booking, which is split between funding the platform and supporting community projects in the local area where guests stay. These could help restore local monuments, promote circular economy initiatives at a local level and create jobs.
“This means that the hosts earn the same, the guests pay the same, but there is a benefit for the world community,” Avellino says in an explanatory video.
Part of this is about reimagining the economy, with Avellino adding to the website Resilience that there’s a need for platforms, which are the “infrastructure of our economies,” to be owned by local communities instead of by American companies.
“We really need to strengthen the different parts of our economies. There are some amazing projects going on, but we need to develop a common narrative, and explain why it’s important to take back control of the technology we use.”
The cooperative is slowly expanding, and travel is currently available to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna, Genova, Granada, Valencia and Venice.
Avellino holds a degree in Biotechnology from the University of Bologna, and a Masters in Management, Organisation and Business Economics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.Tags: Cooperatives, Italy, Sustainable Travel, tourism