It’s tough to go more than a few days without hearing Airbnb or VRBO-giant HomeAway in the news. These dwelling rentals, along with transportation startups like Uber and Lyft, are putting a face on the concept of the sharing economy, and they are forcing major brands and consumers to take notice.  Do you have an extra room that is unused? With the sharing economy, owners of these rooms or homes can make money for underused assets while renters may pay less than they would if they turned to a traditional provider. (1)

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So, how are you supposed to stand out in the sharing economy and attract travelers to your property? What are the drawbacks to accommodations in this sector of the travel ecosystem that you can use to your benefit?  We’ll peel back the onion and expose some of the positives and negatives of the sharing economy.

Reservation to Reserving in the Shared Economy

With the motto, “access trumps ownership”, the sharing economy is looking to gain popularity with millennials as well as Generation-Y travelers (2) in both the business and leisure travel sector. However, when it comes to business travel, the sharing economy is already receiving pushback from corporate travel managers. A recent poll surveyed 350 travel managers and found that the vast majority does not have plans to introduce sharing economy services for a plethora of reasons. (3)

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The biggest barriers for the sharing economy with business travelers are safety and security risks that may be higher than in classic travel solutions. (4) Simply put, we’ve all been in hotels, and we have all felt safe and relatively comfortable with the fact that our belongings and person will be safe throughout the stay.

On the other hand, how comfortable would you be leaving your belongings in a stranger’s home, not knowing who has access in and out? This may not be the ideal situation for some. When asked would you use Airbnb? A UK global travel manager answered, “Absolutely not and that’s mostly for security reasons.”(1)

Enhancing the Product

Even with the security being an area of concern, it’s not surprising that a whole ecosystem is growing up and around the sharing economy sector that helps hosts with everything from inventory management to letting guests in. (4)

Independent property owners and multiple-property managers are encountering problems in their day-to-day operations, and companies are creating solutions that will help maximize profits for renters, while creating a new business model for marketing agencies. This has all happened due to the fact that the sharing economy has some extremely strong benefits that put a fresh spin on travel.

Convenience, a key topic for any millennial, makes sharing economy a popular option across the board.  Companies like Airbnb and VRBO have created significant infrastructure to be able view and book hundreds of thousands of rentals with the click of a mouse or a tap on a mobile screen.  I can have a car sent to me, or get the closest available accommodation to my exact location. What’s the best part about this? I can view the accommodation, book it, and pay all within the app.

Along with with an easy booking process, these accommodations provide a personal, “home-away-from-home” experience along with an increasingly customized getaway. (2) This isn’t to say other lodging properties cannot encompass the same trends, but most are falling behind especially in the realm of technology. While the sharing economy may not seem like a threat, the emerging model is now big and disruptive enough for regulators and companies to take notice. (1)

It’s becoming very clear that the sharing economy is here to stay, and that the early adopters are giving it two thumbs up, but some are still showing resistance. But between traditional lodging options and the sharing economy, they both have room to grow, and positives that can influence travelers to stay with them. As the industry continues to grow and change, will continue to serve the lodging community in the best way possible, while continuing to cater to a vast amount of accmmodation types.


  1. The Economist: The Rise of The Sharing Economy
  2. Carlson Wagonlit Travel: Smarter, Faster, Better?
  3. Skift: Corporate Travel Managers Don’t Trust The Sharing Economy
  4. Startup Ecosystem Continues to Grow in and around The Sharing Economy