That was funny, right? At this time, please visualize Monday’s keynote Douglas Merrill raising his hand (an inside joke if you weren’t there).
Tuesday’s keynote, Rachel Botsman, knocked it seriously out of the park (while scaring the pants off us). I will stop short of saying that by itself it justified the trip, but hearing speakers like her is why you should be here, if you aren’t (yesterdays L.A. HFTP Chapter/IBS party at Lucky Strike Lanes being another).
Ms. Botsman talked about the emerging (heck, it’s here) Collaborative Economy.
Ever notice how many people are sitting in hotel lobbies doing work? And at the same time, how many hotel conference spaces do you think are sitting empty? Enter LiquidSpace, a service that matches people needing space for short periods of time with places that have it. Marriott has jumped on that bandwagon; not only are they getting a few bucks, they are bringing new people into their hotels, people who also need a place to spend the night sometimes.
Technology is enabling new ways for assets to be shared with people wanting them: meeting spaces, cars, homes, boats, meals, music, knowledge of your community, even your dog.
She spoke at length about airbnb, a service that connects travelers with homeowners in communities around the world. Consider this:
• 6 million room nights were booked last year on airbnb.
• You can rent a home, treehouse, converted airplane, teepee, igloo, and more.
• The company is valued at over $10 billion.
• It has more rooms available for sale than (big hotel chain you know) does.
• A raft of support businesses have sprung up around it, for cleaning, key exchange, greeting, food stocking, linens…
Now consider this: airbnb opened for business in 2007.
The collaborative economy is converting us from people who want to own things into people who want access to things. Access over ownership.
The collaborative economy is cutting out all kinds of middlemen or replacing them with new ones: car dealers (zipcar), taxicabs (lyft, uber), hoteliers (airbnb), and pet care (BorrowMyDoggy). Ironically, it turns out that technology is actually bringing a human, local, and personal element to these transactions.
While we weren’t looking, something happened that enabled the collaborative economy — online trust. People used to trust institutions; now they trust peers, connected communities, reviews, and reputation. Botsman believes that “reputation dashboards,” which aggregate our online presence and reputation, are inevitable within five years, even though they also carry the potential for tampering and discrimination. These dashboards will determine who we transact with and who will chose to transact with us.
So what’s a hotelier, cab company or (insert your line of work here) to do?
Randy Craven, CHTP is co-principal of Stella Solutions Group, a hospitality software development and consulting firm based in Greensboro, NC. He has been an HFTP member for three years and currently serves as president of the HFTP Central Carolina Chapter, and also as a member of the HFTP Certification Advisory Council. He was the HFTP 2012 CHTP of the Year recipient.
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