We’ve all seen the revolution taking place with social media and web-based technologies disrupting traditional business models. You don’t really watch television, you stream content from the web to your mobile devices. You mostly read the news from feeds and not exclusively the paper.
So it is the same with Airbnb.
A seemingly novel and niche idea at the time of conception, it has morphed into a rather influential shaper of how the travelers of tomorrow might make their journeys.The idea is so simple. Where we used to have home and timeshare exchanges, Airbnb broadens that to the widest possible possible spectrum. Now anyone can share their home. On the other side, there is a large and willing crowd who will lap this up.
Now you do need to pass a ‘stringent’ criteria to list your home and you get constantly rated. Folks will tell you that this hasn’t been an easy journey as hosts. And Airbnb has even teamed up with airlines to offer ‘accommodations’ in the sky. Hope the guests don’t trash the “accommodation”… It does not end there. Links with the corporate majors (Amex, Carlson etc) lends a lot of legitimacy and contribute to the growth of a rising behemoth.
Earlier this year, Concur (travel & expense management company that Mel’s employer use) reported a noticeable trend of business folks spending more nights with Airbnb accomodations than they did before. Perhaps the influx from business travelers offsets the drop for hotels – so it nets out?
This seeming innocuous development is one of the contributing factors to a growing counter response. Traditionally friendly and welcoming tourist cities are beginning to struggle as their infrastructure creak and moan under a heavier population load that includes not a few transient visitors. Our previous post on how crowded it really is gives a clue as to the volume of people movement that is going on. It’s as if there was never a recession at all. It’s staggering!
Perhaps someday in the not too distant future, we might see quotas put in place to limit visitor numbers. How and will that work? Will it be acceptable? Our species has colonized most of the planet (except Antarctica) through migratory movement (not exactly travel). How can we continue to preserve this right to freedom of travel without ruining precisely the places we want to see and preserve?
Wouldn’t that be a bummer if this prediction ever comes true. And where will Airbnb figure in all of this?