Threat or Not Yet? The Sharing Economy and its Impact on Traditional Travel Services
Love it or hate it, the sharing economy cannot be ignored – and its impact on travel is growing. Enabled by online and mobile technology, an explosion of innovative marketplaces, including Uber and Airbnb, connect individuals who have a good or service to offer with other people who want to make use of it. Variously dubbed the peer, people, collaborative, on-demand gig or rental economy, the phenomenon has spread rapidly across markets and verticals.
From spare bedrooms and private homes to rides, meals and local tours, anyone can now act as a DIY taxi service, host, chef or tour guide. To many, the sharing economy empowers a generation of microentrepreneurs and makes it possible to leverage – and profit from – underutilized resources. To businesses and individuals negatively affected by sharing economy startups, the newcomers illegally bypass regulations, provide low-wage jobs and create unfair competition for properly licensed professionals. However, amid ongoing controversy and political and legal challenges, consumers and investors are propelling these startups into the stratosphere.
This article provides an update on the sharing economy. Despite the challenges, the on-demand market continues to grow, and its influence on the travel industry has just begun.
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