Last year we had our first experience using accommodation sourcing site Airbnb when we rented a studio apartment in New York for two weeks. Airbnb is an online portal https://www.airbnb.com.au/ that matches travellers with individuals who wish to rent out their spaces. Everything from houses, to apartments to a bedroom. It was a great experience, a very stylish studio in West Village, rented from a very helpful and friendly young woman who travels a lot for work, and therefore has a vacant apartment to rent.
What I did not understand at the time was that we were participating in what marketing gurus are now calling peer to peer accommodation. Likewise I did not recognise that peer to peer accommodation is a subset of broader business phenomenon called collaborative consumption.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Rachel Botsman, a global thought leader on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies that transform the way we live, work and consume. Botsman says there is evidence of a growing generational shift where consumers are less compelled to own, and place more value on access when and where they need it.
She sees it as social revolution that allows people to create value out of shared and open resources in ways that balance personal self-interest with the good of the larger community. This is playing out in a myriad of ways – sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping. Fundamental to what is occurring is a shift from simply social networking to also service networking, whereby people are using online relationships to get things in the real world. Crowd funding sites such as Pozible in Australia, and Kickstarter in the US were originally seen just as extensions of tapping your friends and relatives for money. Today they represent serious new age venture capitalist sites for the creative arts community.
Collaborative consumption is a concept that every individual and company needs to be putting their mind to. For individuals, it offers the prospect of greater utility by accessing services in a more relevant manner. Likewise it represents an opportunity to create a market place for their under utilized assets and skills. For businesses the same opportunities exist. But there is an added stinger for many business brands, because in some markets they are going to be losing market share to collaborative consumption initiatives. When you think that Airbnb in four years has become a $2billion company and has facilitated more than 10 million nights accommodation in the last six months, then you have to think that players in the hotel industry have a new dynamic competitor on the block.
Creative challenge for today is to see how you can turn the concept of collaboration into an advantage for your brand and your customers. If that is too challenging, invest in someone else’s idea on Pozible.