Last updated: 10:03 AM ET, Tue July 12 2016

Are Travelers Ready to Trust The Sharing Economy?

Features & Advice | Brian Major | July 11, 2016

Are Travelers Ready to Trust The Sharing Economy?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Hoteliers are seeking to measure the impact of “sharing economy” accommodations on traditional hotels and resorts just as transportation providers eye the effect of ride-sharing companies on their operations. Results of a survey issued Monday by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance USA indicate American travelers are more likely than ever to use such services.

More than twice as many American travelers will use sharing economy services this summer compared with 2015, according to Allianz’ Travel Insurance Sharing Economy Index. “There was significant growth in use, familiarity and trust of the sharing economy over the last year,” said Daniel Durazo, an Allianz spokesman, “showing these services are not a fad and have great potential for longevity.”

Specifically, one in three Americans (36 percent) are likely to use services including AirBnB, HomeAway, Uber or Lyft during their summer vacation, up more than 50 percent from 2015, when Allianz’ survey found 17 percent of Americans were likely to use sharing economy services.

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Sharing economy growth is likely tied to greater familiarity and trust of the services among consumers, the survey found. Compared with 2015, familiarity with sharing economy services grew among millennials (up 28 percent), consumers ages 35 to 54 (up 14 points) and consumers aged 55 and over (up 20 points) in 2016.

Also while sharing economy accommodations are generally perceived as considerably less costly compared with traditional hotels, Allianz’ survey found Americans with annual income of $50,000 or more (38 percent) are more likely to use sharing economy services than those earning less than $50,000 (32 percent).

Predictably, sharing economy utilization is highest among millennials, with 65 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 saying they are likely to use sharing economy services, a 37 percent increase over 2015. By comparison, 33 percent of survey respondents ages 35 to 54 are likely to use sharing economy services (a 16 percent increase) and 14 percent of consumers ages 55 or over will use them (an increase of eight percent).

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Uber topped the list of sharing economy suppliers with which consumers are familiar. Sixty-two percent of Americans are familiar with the service according to the Allianz survey, up 27 percent over 2015. AirBnB was next, familiar to 35 percent of those surveyed, a 16 percent increase over 2015. Lyft was familiar to 34 percent of respondents and HomeAway was familiar to 18 percent of those surveyed.

While 26 percent of Americans believe sharing economy companies provide better value and 22 percent say they offer a “more authentic” local experience (up nine and 10 percent respectively versus 2015) most still prefer services including traditional and online travel agencies and direct hotel booking for a better overall travel reservation experience, quality product and customer support when things go wrong.

“The playing field is quite level with many Americans having an uncertainty about which services provide the better experience,” Durazo said, “which opens an opportunity for the lesser-known sharing economy to take a bigger stake as awareness continues to increase.” 


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