The Sharing Economy

Sharing Accommodation Impacts Cities More Than Hotels

Fast growth but low market share for ‘sharing’ accommodation platforms – Experts see major impact on residential accommodation

ITB Berlin

So-called ‘sharing’ accommodation providers may be growing fast but they still have a relatively low share of the overall hospitality market in Europe. Their main impact is in cities where they generate significant numbers of visitors but also reduce residential accommodation, according to experts. Those were some of the results of the 24th World Travel Monitor® Forum.

Only 3 percent market share for ‘sharing’ accommodation

The so-called ‘sharing’ economy has boomed in recent years with the rise of firms such as Airbnb which have disrupted the leisure accommodation sector. However, they remain niche players, according to figures from the World Travel Monitor®. In 2015, Europeans booked so-called ‘sharing’ accommodation for 14 million outbound trips, which was a mere 3 percent of all their international trips. Nearly two thirds of these bookings were for apartments/flats and holiday homes, while only about 15 percent were for private rooms or B&B stays.

“These apparently low figures may seem surprising considering how often ‘sharing’ companies make headlines about their dynamic growth, but they also show the sizeable future potential for these players,” commented Dr. Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President.

Is Airbnb ‘sharing’ or commercial? 

The largest and best-known ‘sharing accommodation’ platform Airbnb now has about 3 million accommodation listings worldwide and is expanding into new business areas such as destination activities. But the US company has also faced widespread criticism that it is disrupting city centres and neighbourhoods by bringing in excessive numbers of visitors and effectively taking apartments out of the commercial rental sector by driving up prices. Diverse cities including Berlin have imposed new rules on commercial rental of private apartments to try to stop property-owners from renting to tourists through Airbnb and other providers instead of to local people or students. In response, Airbnb agreed at the start of December to enforce regulations designed to prevent hosts from renting properties in London for more than 90 nights a year and in Amsterdam for more than 60 nights.

Jeroen Oskam, research centre director at the Hotelschool The Hague, explained to the Pisa forum that Airbnb is primarily a commercial business, and now has a 10 percent share of all international arrivals in Amsterdam and nearly 8 percent in London. According to his in-depth analysis of Airbnb’s bookings in four European cities (Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Madrid), more than 82 percent of Airbnb-listed accommodation is rented as the entire property, and less than 18 percent as a private room or a sharing room. Similarly, more than 80 percent of the accommodation is available for rent for more than 31 days a year, and a high proportion of listed accommodation is located in city centres, he said. In London, about half of all Airbnb units are offered by hosts with multiple properties. “Airbnb combines a substantial part of commercial activities with a minority of authentic ‘sharers’. This means residents are displaced by tourists. So it’s ‘unsharing’. You reserve assets for tourists,” Oskam concluded.

At the annual World Travel Monitor® Forum in Pisa, initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International and sponsored by ITB Berlin, around 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism.



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