Whether we like it or not, the sharing economy is here to stay. Airbnb has just outsized Hilton worldwide checking in at 25 million guests, and the transportation giant Uber has expanded services to over 277 cities across the world. What the sharing economy means for business events and event planners is still evolving. Some sharing economy applications may be taking away from event planner tasks while others are making the industry stronger and more responsive to clients needs.
Risks & Liabilities
One problem that the sharing economy has posed to the events industry is that these applications are taking over core services that planners traditionally offered. With the additional of community-owned lodging and transportation in the mix, there is more supply and a wider selection. For some customer levels, the convenience of these services may render that particular event planner offering unnecessary.
But these services have not gotten off the ground without a hitch. They have had some growing pains which make them less reliable. During a large event — especially a business event where companies are footing the bill — nobody wants to risk security and reliability. So while these services are convenient and helpful, there will most likely be a certain amount of the population that chooses not to use them.
Is the sharing economy going to truly effect a business event? It is difficult to tell, as the story of Airbnb would suggest otherwise. Back in 2007 co-founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky needed some extra income to pay rent in San Francisco. They advertised three air mattresses plus breakfast to attendees of the nearby Industrial Designers Society of America conference. Airbnb was born.
However large hotel-chains like Marriott and Hilton both have extensive reward programs that will keep people in their rooms and coming back, sometimes with their friends and families. These programs are an incentive to keep business travel in the more traditional hotel lines.
Besides Uber and Airbnb there have been some shared economy innovations that can directly help event planners. The application LiquidSpace works like Airbnb but is geared towards event, meeting and personal office space. It is easy to use; simply enter the area you are looking for and what you need in terms of how many people and the length of time. You can use a space for as little as one hour.
While the sharing economy will continue, it is more than likely that event businesses will be affected very minimally — if at all. What about you? What has been your experience? For questions about your next business event please contact Strategic Event Design.