Concierge economy takes off

Offering convenient and cheaper ways to access tailored services like ordering a private car, renting out a vacation home, or running personal errands, the "concierge economy" rose to a new level in 2012.

Airbnb
On Airbnb you'll find all manner of places to stay around the world -- even train hotels like these. Screenshot by Jennifer Guevin/CNET

Offering convenient, and cheaper, ways to access tailored services like ordering a private car, renting out a vacation home, or running personal errands, the "concierge economy" rose to a new level in 2012. Services -- like Airbnb, Uber, and TaskRabbit, just to name a few -- were sprinkled among news headlines, becoming more than just fringe services. Airbnb helped 4,000 Hurricane Sandy victims find shelter from generous home and bed owners, Uber came up against major friction in Washington D.C. over its taxi services, and TaskRabbit popped up in the iPhone 5 lines.

In addition to disrupting the market, these tech-based services gave many people new ways to make money and have inspired a slew of new companies like DogVacay, an Airbnb for dogs; BlackJet, an Uber-like private jet service; and Zaarly, an Ashton Kutcher-backed personal services marketplace.

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