The sharing economy is not going to disappear anytime soon. On the contrary, it’s expected to rise exponentially in the years to come. It’s a reality that TMCs and travel agents will need to accept if they want to stay relevant for the 3.0. traveller.
Travellers want authentic experiences where they can make real connections with people from around the world. And, they’re also waking up to the fact that the time to start saving the planet is now! For these travellers, the sharing economy is the answer. What better way to offset your footprint and make authentic connections than by sharing accommodation and transportation?
There’s another reason why the sharing economy has become so popular during the past year, and that is the rise of mobile. During a recent webinar, Wouter Geerts, Travel Analyst for Euromonitor International explained that mobile technology has really pushed the sharing economy in the mainstream.
Although Africa might seem to be lagging behind when it comes to the sharing economy, this is expected to change. Mobile and online services are increasingly being demanded in Africa as smartphone penetration expands across the continent, according to a recent study commissioned by Amadeus.
In Africa, millennials are also one the fastest growing population groups as compared to the rest of the world. In 2014, millennials formed just over 35% of the total population in the Middle East and Africa, according to Euromonitor International. And you won’t be surprised that especially the tech-savvy millennials are open to ‘collaborative’ consumption or sharing.
So, how can the travel agent or TMC adapt to the sharing economy?
The sharing economy can bring about some challenges for corporate travellers, as risk management and duty of care can be a concern. The TMC could therefore assist clients in drawing up a policy on sharing companies such as Airbnb by focusing on cost, safety and integration into the travel programme amongst others. Encourage travellers to book through you, the TMC, so their data can be tracked at all times. By taking charge of the booking process and including it in the travel policy and expense reporting, TMCs can help create savings, streamline the reporting process and even personalize the experience for the traveller.