In a world of Uber and Airbnb, what’s the next big thing for the travel industry? We took the opportunity to glean insights from some of our press members at the 2016 PURE Press Roundtable.
Click play to hear what Condé Nast Traveler China Features Editor Guannan Huang had to say; or read on to get the extended insights and download the full report.
TRAVEL TREND #5: SHARING ECONOMY
“I think the next biggest trend in travel will be people starting to plan trips by sharing economy.”
– Guannan Huang, Features Editor at Condé Nast Traveler China
When most people hear ‘sharing economy’, there’s one travel brand that comes to mind; but in reality platforms like Airbnb and Uber are a metaphor for the modern mindset that sharing is better. Whether the assets in question are physical, as in property and vehicle sharing, or intellectual, exemplified by the rise of social media and online reviews, modern travellers are turning to the sharing economy in their search for the new authenticity.
High-end suppliers who capitalise on this will thrive, argues SUITCASE’s Serena Guen, citing the example of Casa Bonay in Barcelona. By taking into account the needs of the neighbourhood, rather than trying to create a textbook example of the destination that’s largely irrelevant to local people, founder Inés Miró-Sans has generated a mini-economy shared by travellers and locals alike – thus facilitating connections and creating a more authentic local experience than most tourism establishments can hope for.
Echoing this sentiment, Editor-in-Chief of We Heart, James Davidson, recently wrote about the rise of “cultural programmes” for THE SHIFT: “Let your neighbourhood be your narrative, its people the protagonists; make travel magical again, keep it real.” By introducing concepts and programmes that appeal to local people as well as travellers, travel brands can fulfil travellers’ hunger for authenticity and immersion in a destination; or their search for “tangible experiences that speak to their cultural desires”, as Davidson so neatly puts it.
In the online world, Condé Nast Traveler China’s Guannan Huang points to travellers sharing intel through apps like Instagram and TripAdvisor, admitting that she herself searches hashtags to get the lowdown on a destination. Similarly to Airbnb and Uber, both of which integrate a review system as a core part of their proposition, the value in these apps is that they create a community bound not by demographics or locality, but by a common need or interest.
Travel brands that are able to create shared ground – whether between hosts (or staff) and guests; between locals and travellers; or even between groups of travellers – will thus promote honesty, encourage trust and contribute to what Airbnb’s Head of Hospitality, Chip Conley, calls a “noble purpose”. As he explains, “You want to go travel the world to get to know people different than yourself – now that is a great purpose, and it helps to create a little bit more of a world where people can actually be more empathetic toward each other. I’m a big believer that travel can provide for that.”
Katie Palmer is Senior Creative Executive for Beyond Luxury Media.