The Sharing Economy is Going Mainstream

Today, travelers can turn to peer-to-peer networks for just about anything. Need someone to look after your pup, while you’re on the road? No problem. Companies like Rover.com have you covered. Prefer a part-time driver, using his or her personal vehicle – rather than taking a classic yellow cab? There’s an app for that. And, as every millennial traveler knows, if hotel rooms aren’t for you, there’s a nice flat or home not far away for rent.

The sharing economy, with the help from pioneers like Uber and Airbnb, has become mainstream. Most consumers have accepted these as a safe, reliable alternative to services that have been dominating for decades. Large hotel chains are noticing the shift and taking measures to ensure their loyal customers have options.

According to a TechCrunch article, Wyndham Worldwide’s RCI division, which specializes in vacation exchange, has just acquired Love Home Swap, a London startup that’s now one of the world’s largest home exchange programs. While the terms of the deal were not officially announced, it is rumored that the acquisition was in the ballpark of $40 million.

The new acquisition by Wyndham is not unprecedented, however. Last year, Accor Hotels paid $170 million to acquire OneFineStay, an Airbnb-esque startup that focused on high-end properties. Other hotel chains are adding vacation homes to their inventory or creating soft-brands in an attempt to keep up with the changing marketplace – and traveler demand for more unique experiences.

While the $40 million purchase of Love Home Swap likely won’t turn the hotel industry on its head, I think it’s safe to say the sharing economy is making waves in the traditional travel space. Expect more acquisitions and a diversified inventory by hotel chains in the years to come.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

A European cruise retail giant? Cruise.co.uk, a UK-based online travel company, has acquired rival Kreuzfahrtberater.de, a German cruise OTA, for $30 million - claiming the deal makes it the number one online cruise retailer in Europe.

According to Travel Weekly UK, the deal will reportedly give the combined new company cruise sales of around $295 million and combined annual traffic of 37.5 million visits. The new company will also have operations in the two largest cruise markets in Europe and will create a ‘European leader’ in the growing cruise space.

A failed experiment by United Airlines. According to China Travel News, United Airlines will exit Hangzhou, China in October 2017, just 15 months after launching three weekly 787 flights. The airliner is reporting the Pacific as its worst performing operation in Q2 2017 and the only region with a negative PRASM, or Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile, year-on-year.

One for the road: As another example that the sharing economy is claiming significant market share, Forbes is reporting that business travelers are increasingly turning to Uber and Lyft, not cabs or rental cars. In fact, Uber accounted for an astounding 55% of ground transportation expenses overall in Q2.

Sources: TechCrunch, Travel Weekly UK, China Travel News, Forbes.



Posted by Pete Bahrenburg