Airbnb is transforming travel

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?

Author: Mel & Suan

Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!

15 thoughts on “Airbnb is transforming travel”

    1. Actually we have seen a few other regulators coming in to “manage” this new sharing economy. Probably about taxes (again). In Singapore, it is illegal to sublet your room or apartment for less than 6 months. When you do lease it out (>=6mths), you need to register with the authorities and lodge the details of the rental contracts. In a way, its both taxes for the IRS and ‘big brother’ looking over your shoulder…

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  1. I love Airbnb! I have been using their service for some time now , it never fails . Most of the time renting via Airbnb is cheaper then getting a hotel and better for long term , as you often can have access to kitchen etc . My only concern that it is not as “exclusive” as it was when the service started . Now , it seems that anybody with a spare room in the house put it up on Airbnb .

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    1. Hmm. yes that’s true. And we’re not sure how AirBnB can keep up with ensuring standards are met. I think their recent drive to get owners to be committed to non-bias is a good thing. But the empowering thing for the consumer is that you get to rate the accommodation and host, so there is a balance between the traveler and the owner.

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  2. I certainly hope we will not see visitor quotas! And of course, with the results of the American elections, I’m worried about people coming to the U.S. to live and work, as well. I hope that that does not get more difficult. If anything, I think the U.S. needs more Americans who hail from different countries and cultures. My humble opinion. 🙂

    I look forward to trying AirBnB sometime!

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    1. Yeah, no quotas! But it is true that we are seeing some push back from local folks where simply “too many” tourist have come…it’s getting challenging to have a photo without lots of people in it! lol
      And we would like to try AirBnB some time too!

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  3. This past year I traveled in Scotland, Spain and Holland, all using AirBnB. I was struck with how well it worked which I credit to the AirBnB folks being well organized and having clear, business-like rules for everyone. They obviously understand that it has to work fairly for both sides or their whole business model fails. One surprise I did discover – some people are running multi-unit businesses by buying condos or renting apartments and then putting them on AirBnB. In Madrid the group I rented from was managing 50 units ! That’s a long way from renting out your extra bedroom. But because the structure was so clear, we enjoyed ourselves everywhere. One comment from Seattle – there is concern here about apartment building owners gradually converting over to AirBnB operations and in the process taking a lot of affordable housing off the market. That’s definitely a community downside, at least here.

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    1. Wow. Guess this is what we meant with the transformation too…innovations like this opens up opportunities to ordinary folks just as much as internet “stores” like eBay did the same originally. The only potential downside we can see is some folks “gaming” the process such as buying up blocks of flats to rent out on AirBnB. They become inn-keepers without having to ‘conform’ with the industry, perhaps setting their own standards etc..Good and bad we suppose.

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        1. True. We are not for overwhelming regulation, but will have to watch how consumers (ie travelers) are protected. Guess AirBnB is doing a pretty good job for now given it is quite a challenge to maintain standards. Now that there are corporate tie ups with the likes of Amex, it will be probably soon that business travel start to see a more meaningful shift. Let’s watch the trend!

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