The “sharing economy” – when private individuals, rather than businesses, rent out their personal property, such as their homes, cars, bicycles or tools – has taken the globe by storm in industries across the board.
Now that the sharing economy has gone mainstream, what kind of future can renters and borrowers expect in the housing and vacation rental industry? Homeowners, especially, have many concerns about new issues popping up related to sharing their homes with vacationers.
As more vacation rental sites appear, the focus of the online marketplace will be forced to make some pivots. As such, it’s no secret that the vacation rental industry is poised to make transitions in order to keep it viable for today’s unique consumer.
Here are 3 expert opinions about the future of the sharing economy and what challenges and celebrations may be coming for homeowners and guests.
Rachel Botsman, visiting academic at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School, creator of the world’s first MBA course on the collaborative economy, and author of What’s Mine Is Yours, is most famous for coining the term “collaborative consumption” when discussing this new model of sharing assets.
Botsman believes the sharing economy model will continue to expand and evolve with newer technologies. Smartphone apps, especially, will see significant growth in relation to sharing economy platforms.
For those in the vacation rental business, it will be increasingly vital to pay close attention to the way their properties are presented. Pictures and features for vacation rental homes should be optimized for mobile app presentation to stay as competitive as possible.
Additionally, Botsman sees this type of collaborative consumption growing into different sectors. Energy sharing platforms and internet connection sharing plans are beginning to take flight in some parts of the world. Those who have an excess of these services are finding ways to share their resources. Homeowners may even discover ways to incorporate energy and Wi-Fi sharing into their vacation rentals for maximum cost efficiency.
Finally, Botsman predicts that this model of collaborative goods and services will branch out into newer markets around the globe, specifically China and India. These countries, which are experiencing massive growth in industry and tourism, are primed for vacation and home rental sharing services like Airbnb and others. For potential property owners, these spots may have top investment potential.
Billee Howard, founder of Brandthropologie, contributor at Forbes Magazine, and author of We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy, focuses her expertise on the business side of the sharing economy and how companies like Etsy, Uber, Airbnb, and others have been able to launch successful business models that make a profit. Howard believes businesses and individuals can find success through collaborative innovation.
Howard insists that telling a story plays an essential role in building trust in the sharing economy for things like vacation rental homes. Homeowners can do more with this by focusing on ways to tell potential renters about their home or space’s story.
It’s also essential to position themselves in a way that is compelling and relatable to potential renters. Instead of a sterile hotel room, today’s room and home renters want something more personalized. They also want to get a little more insight into their hosts and a story brings that to the table – along with trust.
More importantly, people are more likely to buy from people they have a connection with – or more simply, people buy from other real people. Showing transparency in what you’re offering and creating a story people want to be a part of will add to the likelihood that they will choose to rent from you over competitors with less personal messages.
Howard also stresses the importance of powerful content in the sharing economy marketplace. Interacting and completing transactions between private individuals needs to be driven by content that is original, touching or compelling. That way, the product you’re offering stands out among the thousands of others who have joined in on this method of generating income.
Finally, Howard stresses that social media will continue to play a big role in the future of the sharing economy business model. With the rise of various platforms for social media sharing, more users are driving organic content and sharing stories with their friends and followers. This may also help push shared services and goods further beyond the traditional means of ordering and purchasing products.
Alex Stephany, author of The Business of Sharing and former CEO of the successful UK-based startup JustPark, details the ways that traditional business methods are being transformed by the new collaborative economy.
Stephany sees a future where the collaborative culture continues to break ground in new communities and help individuals make money. For homeowners, there could be even more opportunities beyond sharing a residence, such as sharing parking spaces or lawn care equipment. Ideally, people who own assets could take advantage of their ownership and generate revenue by offering to rent to those individuals who are uninterested in investing in assets of their own.
Additionally, Stephany expects individuals to expand their sharing potential to clothing and other personal items. Environmentally, the planet could benefit from the constant use of items that may have traditionally been thrown out.
Finally, Stephany sees more potential for average homeowners to continue making profits. For now, that’s good news – collaborative consumption is gaining popularity and continues to have positive associations. Hosts, drivers, owners, and more are able to capitalize on this hot and expanding industry.
The sharing economy has exploded over the past few years. The industry is truly powered by people and will continue to grow as more innovators find ways to connect owners to potential renters.
Sites and networks allowing individuals to lend out their belongings for profit will provide added sources of financial freedom and entrepreneurial success to some while helping others find what they’re looking for without making significant investments.
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