How the sharing economy is shaking the hotel industry
Can social media change full-fledged industries? Can the online world revolutionize entire sectors?
When planning a holiday, staying at a hotel has been the traditional way of ‘doing things’. But not in recent years. With the rise of social technologies, a brand new system has emerged based on what has been dubbed as the ‘sharing economy’.
Airbnb is the flagship example of what the sharing economy is and how it has been shaking the hotel industry. Advertised on Airbnb’s website are not hotels, but people’s own apartments, or rooms within those apartments.
Visitors can browse the site’s database, filled with accommodation opportunities across different continents. Vacationers can then pick their preferred accommodation and stay there short-term, for the length of their holiday.
Airbnb is not the only site of its kind. As this sharing system is becoming more and more popular, other sites offering similar services are mushrooming.
Roomorama, Wimdu, Localo, and 9flats.com are just some of many others that let owners around the world rent out their rooms, studios, apartments, villas and other properties for short-term holidayers.
From the owner’s perspective, this sharing system offers the opportunity to turn an empty, vacant, unused or spare space into a lucrative asset.
From the consumer’s point of view, this is a way to find a (sometimes much) cheaper alternative to hotel accommodation, as well as live with or as a local and feel somewhat at home.
On a larger scale, this new system has also been found to be quite fruitful for local economies. Through cheaper accommodation, vacationers are able to stay longer at their destinations than they would have if staying at a hotel, and to take advantage of more touristic activities than previously possible – thus boosting local tourism.
Not only that, but the sharing economy has also encouraged people around the world to become entrepreneurs and create their own small businesses from the comfort of their homes, literarily – again, boosting local economies.
The success of the sharing economy is such that some expect the entire hotel industry to be virtually overturned in the near future, a trend that has already begun. Some say that the millennial generation – proficient users of technology and social media – will mostly, if not only, be involved in these types of sharing transactions.
This is only one example of how social media and new technologies are gradually restructuring industries as we know them today.
This change is however happening across all sectors of society, thus entrepreneurs and business-owners need to be prepared to adapt to this transformative wave and embrace the new online tools that are emerging, as well as the new, tech-driven consumer.
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