The American dream typically centers around ownership.
We dream about buying our first car or our first home. More ambitious dreamers target a second home for holiday getaways, or a private jet to whisk them away at a moment’s call.
There are both financial and logistical hurdles to making these things happen, but what if there were a cheaper — and easier — way?
Bumming Rides, Crashing on Couches
Both stocks popped higher on their first days of trading, and they both continue to trade well above their original IPO prices.
HomeAway gives property owners a way to help offset the sting of second home ownership by showcasing them as short-term rentals to folks who need a place to stay for days, weeks, or even months. Travelers benefit because they can stay in one-of-a-kind vacation homes that are far more spacious than cramped hotel rooms, often at prices that are comparable to, if not cheaper than, conventional lodging.
Everybody wins: Owners can make money on their vacation properties when they’re not using them, while travelers can stay in a genuine vacation home without the costs or hassle of actual ownership.
It’s not surprising to see HomeAway so successful. The $329 property owners pay annually for listing their getaways and having access to HomeAway’s seamless fulfillment tools is typically made back on the very first rental. Through HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, and several other websites it owns, the company offers more than 625,000 paid vacation rental home listings in more than 145 countries.
Baby, You Can Drive My Car
Zipcar is another asset-sharing success story.
Owning a car can be a drag. Between car payments, routine maintenance, insurance premiums, and fuel costs, having a set of wheels can drive your disposable income a lot lower than you think for a machine that sits idle most of the time. Zipcar offers a way out with a presence in 15 metropolitan cities and on more than 250 college campuses.
Zipsters — that’s what members call themselves — typically pay a one-time $25 application fee and an annual fee of around $50 to join, and are then charged as little as roughly $8 an hour for a car. Unlike traditional auto rentals that can nickel and dime you over longer periods, Zipcar reservations cover insurance, gasoline, and up to 180 miles per day.
Environmentalists love Zipcar because they eliminate the carbon footprint of having a plethora of cars on the road. There were 604,571 Zipsters sharing 9,480 cars at the end of June. Drivers love Zipcar because it’s cool. All it takes is a smartphone app or a high-tech Zipcard to open a reserved Zipcar from its designated parking spot.
Zipcar obviously will never be for everybody. The math won’t work for suburban residents with frequent daily commutes. Zipcar is concentrated in major cities or college towns where occasional treks for leisure or groceries make sense. But given Zipcar’s healthy growth over the years, it’s clearly resonating for its growing army of Zipsters.
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