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The room-sharing economy

In this section we will be delving into the world of the room-sharing economy and looking at cases from Airbnb, who have mastered the business.
room sharing
© RMIT University 2017
Whenever you travel to a place away from home, where to stay is definitely one of the things you care about. Often the options are clear:
1. you either stay with someone you know; or
2. you look for a hotel or motel.
Although these are good options, they all have disadvantages.
By staying with someone you know, you may not want to feel indebted to the person who hosts you. By staying at a hotel or motel, the commercial spaces of hotels and motels can have terrible services and can be unjustifiably expensive.
On the other hand, there are many locals who have spare rooms and are happy to rent them out to strangers for a small fee. You get the best of both worlds in staying with a personable host who provides you with a commercial level of accommodation service. Businesses like Airbnb operate in this sector of the sharing economy.
Watch this advertising campaign by Airbnb which explains the value they offer in the sharing economy. In the commercial, Airbnb seeks to persuade the consumer that they provide better value than you’ll find in a commercial space like a hotel. They also promote Airbnb accommodation as relatively cheaper and more personalised than a hotel, while living in local neighbourhoods with local people.
Airbnb positions its offering around a sense of community and belonging. It appeals to consumers’ sense of building valuable relationships with their hosts or guests. Here they are trying to position themselves against the option of living with someone you know.
Airbnb is not the only player in this sector, although it is the most popular. Businesses like Alterkeys and 9Flats are also growing and offering consumers alternative forms of accommodation when they travel to foreign places. Whether we are looking to stay locally, or further afield, new and interesting businesses within the accommodation sector continues to find new ways to solve our short and longer stay needs.
There are many existing companies who facilitate accommodation sharing.
Make a list of six accommodation sharing companies active in this sector and differences the differences between the companies. Think about the fees each company charges, the areas they operate in, the consumers they target, etc.
Based on your review of the companies, what company would you consider using as a guest?
Post your thoughts in the Comments area below.

© RMIT University 2017
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Business Futures: the Sharing Economy

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