UBER and Airbnb were recently announced as the two most valuable travel startups in the world, recently valued at $40 billion and $20 billion respectively. Last year Airbnb processed nearly 1 million bookings per month, while UBER drivers took passengers on 1 million rides per day!

It’s not hard to see why hoteliers and taxi drivers around the globe are stepping up the pressure on legislators to clamp down on what may label as the ‘black economy’. In San Fransisco, the debate about the success of law enforcement and potential legislation revisions has already begun just one month after the short-term rental ordinance took effect, with both lawmakers and hosts expressing concerns about limited staff resources and complex registration procedures. In the meantime, Uber and Starwood have recently launched their own partnership, blurring the lines between traditional and contemporary providers of travel services by allowing travelers to accumulate Starpoints while riding with Uber drivers.

Legislation on short term accommodation rentals and local taxi transport is usually down to politicians at municipal or regional level to solve, and many have found themselves in legal deep water as they have struggled to meet the demands of hoteliers and taxi drivers, while being reluctant to shut off the flow of visitors who use and enjoy the flexibility and unique experiences that short term renting brings.

The above concerns and many more where echoed at ITB. Over the course of various seminars, directors of Europe’s top DMOs, hotel groups, limo firms, lawyers and representatives of the top sharing economy platforms got their chance to air their views on the sharing economy. CEO of VisitBerlin Bernard Kieker made his views clear: “We do not want Berlin to become an Airbnb city where local residents are priced out of their apartments” while acknowledging the additional streams of visitors that were coming to the city precisely because this option is currently available (though perhaps not on such a large scale for much longer).

CONTROVERSIAL, BUT ALSO SMART

Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, General Manager for Western Europe of Uber explained his firm’s position in a different way: “Our main competitor is not the taxi driver, it is the very concept of car ownership”. With 1 billion cars on the planet only being used 4% of the time, Uber’s target customer is the customer who given up his or her own car in favor of shared rides. This raises the broader question of how sharing economy platforms can be used to help solve some destinations’ biggest problems, not least traffic congestion or hotel capacity during conference season.

While politicians argue over the subject (or try to look the other way), local residents continue to offer their accommodation to visitors and visitors get hooked on the practical benefits of using shared resources such as apartments, cars, bikes, boats and much else.

This blog post is from   http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=398

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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