Peer-to-peer marketplaces are causing a quiet revolution that could change the way your travel products and created and sold - to the same extent that Ebay changed retail 15 years ago.
It's already a sizeable business model. This July, following investment in Air bnb, its estimated worth was US$1.3 billion. But it's not a one company wonder. Wimdu the German equivalent has 35,000 accommodation options on offer and their website says they are doubling their inventory every month.
It's also not just accommodation. Peer-to-peer marketplaces are spreading across the travel industry.
One of the earliest movers in this space was car hire. The UK’s Whipcar boasts over 1,000 cars for hire and the business model is being looked at seriously by innovative car companies such as Sixt. I mentioned technology enabled - if your mobile phone can open your hotel room it won’t be long before it can find and open and start cars sold through the peer-to-peer marketplace - making the system even more functional.
Gidsy is one of a host of marketplaces to find guides for all sorts of activities. While http://campinmygarden.com/ is just brilliant way for gardeners and campers to make money, connect and enjoy life.
The whole movement is inspired by austerity, environmentalism and the ever present human desire to connect. People are looking for new ways to make and save money. Many are rejecting consumerism and looking to enjoy what’s sustainably available. Indeed, one of the oldest and biggest sites www.couchsurfing.com does not make a penny. However we must not forget it's being driven by the desire to connect with other humans not a corporation or business.
These are a strong set of motives and the industry needs to look at them carefully. As ever, we are always looking to embrace the latest travel trends and Air bnb, Wimdu, HouseTrip and Gidsy are all speaking at the Travel Distribution Summit in London this April 17-18. For more information go to http://events.eyefortravel.com/travel-distribution-summit-europe/