Guestblog by Niels de Greef, ParkFlyRent

As an avid reader of this blog you undoubtedly agree that sharing is awesome. ShareNL's research shows a lot of people are willing to share (84% of all Amsterdam citizens!)... however, the percentage of people that actually share is tiny. And of those sharers, most only share certain items, f.i. a shared car but not a shared house or power drill.

Recently, I got to share my sharing enthusiasm at the superinspiring TedxAmsterdam event , but here I'd also like to share a different, more personal story: why I share. For me, sharing makes sense because of a very simple reason: sharing makes me happier, and it makes the person using my shared good happier. 

Researchers at San Francisco University's Psychology department already proved it: spending money on experiences makes you happier than spending money on things. Curious to see how that works for you? Then join me on an experiment: close your eyes and play the Youtube-compilation of your life. I'm willing to bet you did not visualize that car you bought, your 55inch flatscreen or that expensive garden set, but probably that awesome vacation, time spent with loved ones, finishing your first marathon or watching your team win the championships. 

Granted, the latter category are not free either, you do spend hard cash on those plane tickets, that gourmet dinner or those tickets to the finals. And that is exactly why I love the sharing economy: nothing beats turning things into experiences and saving money in the process so you can afford more experiences.

As a teenager, I traveled solo throughout France, and learned three things: that my sense of direction was not my forté, that an oversized, steel-framed backpack can actually cause your back to bleed and that people are awesome! I'll never forget that friendly Frenchy who turned his tiny car around to give me a lift in the opposite direction, or that farmer who offered to let me pitch my tent in the meadow where his new-born sheep were frolicking about, after I'd been walking for hours on end without finding a campsite. 

As a twenty-something,  I Couchsurfed my way through the world, and shared my own couch on many occasions. My driver was never the money it saved, but the experiences it bought me. It taught me that people are the kindest creatures ever. 

As a thirty-something, I finally saw an opportunity to 'be the change' on more than an individual level. During a short trip to Sardinia, we parked the car at the airport, and it struck me how dreary and cold this transaction was: paying 80 euros to a machine and walking across a vast field of asphalt in the early morning drizzle with all our luggage. Once on Sardinia, we waited in line forever to get a rental car, were helped by the least motivated individual I'd come across in a long time and got a car that met none of our expectations. So I thought to myself: why do we even need these companies, isn't there a better way to organize this?

Three months later, ParkFlyRent opened its doors. With us, travelers park for free at the airport, and get a private driver dropping them off at the right terminal. During their trip, we rent out their car for them to other travelers. When the owners return, they get their car back clean, and share in the proceeds as well. 

The renters in turn get a unique experience, a car with a story, service with a smile and a price tag that leaves room for plenty of extra experiences during their trip. At ParkFlyRent, our team interacts with people from all over the world, and often hear their stories about what they share as well. This way we're spreading the gospel and hope more and more people will realize the transformative power of sharing!

 

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