The travel and tourism industry shifts from generation to generation, with new ways to travel, new ways to stay, and new ways to play emerging every decade. This year’s trend is the growing sharing economy. The sharing economy is revolutionizing the way that we experience new places, and it’s something that you’ll definitely want to be a part of.
What is the Sharing Economy?
If you’re not familiar with the term, you’ve come to the right place. The sharing economy includes peer-offered pickup services, house swapping, and other non-corporate types of businesses that involve everyday people offering services from their own homes, cars, and neighborhoods. Uber is a great example of how these types of services can be successful and satisfactory. Uber and Lyft offer an alternative to renting a car in a strange city or expensive taxi rides. AirBnB and similar services have also become extremely popular, especially with millennial travelers. By renting a house or apartment, you can stay in real neighborhoods, have more space, and save money. Not only do they provide the comforts and conveniences of home, but they tend to be much less expensive than a hotel in the same area.
More Personal Interactions
The sharing economy depends on trust and mutual respect, even more than the more mainstream travel options. Rather than trusting a corporation to provide services as advertised, travelers who engage in the sharing economy interact on a personal peer-to-peer basis with locals at their destination. The result is a business relationship that is comfortably casual, yet minimizes the risks that usually come with staying at a stranger’s house or riding in a stranger’s car. This mode of travel allows a certain bureaucratic barrier to be broken in the world of travel service and restores a much older, far more personal method of business interactions.
The sharing economy is creating a small yet substantial shift towards a whole new way to do travel. Rather than taking the typical tours and staying in mass-produced hotel accommodations, travelers now have much better access to unique adventures. While their parents went to Chicago to stay in a four-star hotel, see all the famous sites, and hail taxi cabs, millennials are now crashing on couches, hiring Uber drivers, and taking pay-as-you-wish city walking tours given by local college kids hoping to earn a few extra bucks. And in turn, they’re renting out their own cars, houses, and leisure equipment.
Make Extra Money
This development has impacted the travel industry in a few significant ways. First, it reduces demand for traditional travel accommodations and heightens the demand for individualized accommodations. While this not might be awesome news for the Hilton, it’s certainly great news for the rest of us! Pretty much anyone with real estate now has the opportunity to capitalize on their home while they’re away, making money even while traveling. Those of us with cars or experience in the area can jump on the gig economy, too, and make a few bucks on our off hours.
Besides changing who gets the money of young travelers, the sharing economy also lets more young people travel. The peer-to-peer model has fewer layers of employment and very little upkeep or advertising costs, so the cost of couchsurfing your way across Europe just became a whole lot less than traditional models of travel. That means more budget conscious travelers than ever before can go to exotic dream destinations. It may not include turn-down service, but it gives many more people the ability to experience the things that really count in travel.
Live Like a Local
Finally, the sharing economy also opens up a whole new world of non-touristy tourism experience. If you’ve spent any time at all on the travel side of the internet lately, you know that today’s travel information is all about how to tour a place like a local. With the sharing economy, tourists finally have the ability to blend in a bit and feel like they belong. With less corporation interaction and more personal interactions, travelers can have gain access to places that aren’t available for exploration through travel booking. This is a positive shift, since it builds global awareness, respect, and understanding.
If you still aren’t convinced, why not try out the sharing economy for yourself? There are dozens of websites that can guide you to a personalized experience of virtually anywhere in the world. The sharing economy is the future of travel—be a part of the innovation!