COMMENT: Is sharing caring?

COMMENT: Is sharing caring?

By David Chapple, Director, Business Travel Show, Centaur Media

By David Chapple, Director, Business Travel Show, Centaur Media

Like it or not, corporate travellers are increasingly turning to sharing economy sites when they look for somewhere to stay on business.

The big question for 2015 is how travel managers should deal with this relatively new phenomenon in the lodging market.

Our annual research of almost 300 buyers showed that it’s still early days when it comes to adoption of sharing economy providers in corporate travel. One quarter – 26 per cent – of buyers believe sharing economy suppliers are a threat to their travel programme. Exactly the same number view them as a benefit. Perhaps more interestingly, almost half (48 per cent) remain undecided.

All of this explains why 91 per cent of buyers don’t already include sharing economy providers in their travel programme, though – thanks to the complexities of driving compliance – this doesn’t mean that 91 per cent of travellers are not using their services.

For example, one fifth of buyers don’t officially condone the use of sharing economy suppliers, but there is no ban on their travellers booking them independently. This figure matches the number of travellers who buyers believe are already doing this. Somewhat worryingly, though, 20 per cent of buyers don’t know whether travellers book sharing economy providers or not.

Interestingly, one in eight buyers – 12 per cent – plan to incorporate these suppliers in an official capacity ‘in the next three years’, which shows they are playing a ‘wait and see’ game, perhaps hoping for a little more clarity regarding the impact using the sharing economy has on their duty of care responsibility and other legislative issues.

The full statistics are below:

Do you think ‘sharing economy’ providers such as Uber and Airbnb offer a benefit or threat to your travel programme?
A.     Benefit 26
B.     Threat 26
C.     Undecided 48
Do you include suppliers from the sharing economy in your travel programme?
Yes 8
No 48
No but travellers are allowed to book them independently 19
No but plan to in the next three years 12
No and don’t plan to 13
Are your travellers booking stays through “sharing economy”, or private short-term rental listing platforms? Yes/no/don’t know.
Yes 20
No 60
Don’t know 20

 

It’s an interesting time for the sharing economy as the market starts to mature and users become familiar with using these services, more niche and specialist offerings are appearing such as Veeve, Jethunter and Magicevent, all of whom are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next month. Buyers attending the show will also be able to hear from suppliers and buyers in our free panel session on Wednesday 24 February: Sharing economy – putting its houses in order?

The Business Travel Show takes place on 24-25 February, Olympia Grand, London, and is attended by 250 exhibitors and 7,500 business travel professionals. Register for a free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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