Will Collaborative Consumption Change the Face of Travel Tech?

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October 14, 2012

Collaborative consumption, P2P, what’s mine is yours: it’s the human side of the web. Companies are involved, but they tend to take a background role, letting the users facilitate the transactions amongst themselves.

A good example of a P2P company like this is Ebay. All of the communication, unless something goes painfully wrong, is done between the buyer and seller. All Ebay do is take a cut of the auction price.

Collaborative consumption is slightly different – it’s the sharing movement. Ride sharing websites for example, connect two people who take the same route to work, or who are doing a roadtrip and have an extra seat and connect them. It saves both of them money, it saves the environment and it brings two people who wouldn’t otherwise have met, together.

The future of travel start-ups look increasingly to follow a P2P or collaborative consumption model. “Pet sitting” for example, closely follows the “what’s mine is yours trend”. Pet owners can sign up on a pet sitting websites, post a listing of what they require and interested sitters can then apply. Money rarely changes hands as most sitters tend to apply for pet and house sits in other countries, providing them with free accommodation for their trip.

But accommodation and car sharing aren’t the only two areas of travel tech that are being affected by this movement. There are start-ups to share your parking space, or rent it out, which benefits travellers if you live next to an airport. There are start-ups to rent out your car when you’re not using it, to taxi share, to meet locals, to have dinner with locals, to get guided around the place you’re visiting by locals. Essentially there’s a lot of start-ups that involve locals!

That’s the thing about the P2P movement though – rather than start another Lonely Planet, more and more companies realise that there are people on the ground who have this knowledge and insight, so why not send people directly to them? After all, who knows a city better than somebody who lives there? Plus, and perhaps this wasn’t the original priority of any of these companies, but it’s certainly a bi-product, it puts the human side back into the internet, back into life.

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