What the Sharing Economy Means to the Future of Travel

by Vincent Trivett + Skift Team - Dec 2013

Skift Research Take

Collaborative consumption, once an idealist niche for hitchhikers and backpackers, has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry thanks to the economic, social and technological changes of the past decade. How can incumbent companies learn from this fast-growing segment of the travel industry?

Report Overview

With the global economic downturn and increasing trust of the Internet and online payments, there has been a major shift towards access of goods over ownership of them. The travel industry is the sector most affected by the meteoric growth of sharing and collaborative consumption.

The sharing economy is not new, but it has exploded in recent years thanks to consumers’ increased awareness of idle assets. Consumer-to-consumer vacation rentals and ride share bulletin boards have been around for years, but efficient online payments and trust in e-commerce have made sharing into a viable alternative for the mainstream. Startups like Airbnb, Carpooling and Lyft have enjoyed tremendous growth. They now operate on such a scale that they are matching mainstream hotels and transportation companies in convenience, and usually beating them on price.

The growth of collaborative consumption is not just about cash strapped travelers settling for a less luxurious option, however. In fact, it is growing in popularity for high-end consumers. Trust in strangers, and a desire to travel like a local rather than a tourist are also on the rise. Sharing and communing with locals is the best part of participating in collaborative consumption.

This trend has serious implications for hoteliers, rail, short-haul airlines, tour guides and destination marketers, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t incorporate the best of the sharing economy and stay relevant.

This trends report will look at the economic, social, and technological changes that drives customers toward the sharing economy, especially for accommodation and ground transport. Through an examination of the advantages of new sharing businesses, we will make recommendations for incumbent players in the travel industry to avoid disintermediation.