The growth in the sharing economy will see a dramatic surge in the peer-to-peer business sector, the Abta Travel Convention heard. The next decade will see 30% annual growth. The value of peer-to-peer companies is estimated to hit $335 billion by 2025, against $15 billion in 2013.  This forecast came from PwC partner, David Trunkfield, who disclosed that 17 peer-to-peer companies worldwide are now worth more than 1 billion dollars each, including a number in travel.  He highlighted Airbnb as being larger than the biggest traditional hotel chains, while others continue to grow exponentially.  According to Trunkfield, that growth is unlikely to be pushed off course, despite headwinds such as increased regulations, safety issues and taxation. He advised established travel businesses to seek to protect their position by lobbying to neutralize the threat of the emerging sharing economy businesses, engaging with them and entering into the market as well as Avis has done.  

Hugo Jenkins, global head of sales for high-end city centre home rental firm OneFineStay, outlined how his business started embracing the trade two years ago, by working with agents and paying commission. Citing the third party endorsement provided by agents, Jenkins said that the trade now represents one of the largest marketing channels for the business, which manages 2,500 properties in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles and is “crucial” to its long-term success.  The chief executive of easyCar, Richard Laughton, also predicted that sharing economy businesses would have a positive effect on the travel industry over the next few years, as increased supply triggers more demand.  The firm’s easyCarClub car-sharing arm is expanding as consumers gain more trust in the concept.  The overall business has seen 55% growth year-on-year in London with more than half of that coming from peer-to-peer rentals, he explained. Travel Weekly UK

Meanwhile, private accommodation rental platform, Airbnb, is engaged in boosting its presence across the African continent. In the last 12 months alone, it has doubled the number of listings it has in the region, as more people sign up to let out their houses and apartments. The number of people staying in Airbnb properties in Africa has increased by 145 per cent, while the number of Africans using Airbnb when travelling to other countries has increased by 139 per cent.  In Kenya, there are currently over 1,400 listings on Airbnb, with the greatest concentration in Nairobi (788). Kenyans are also embracing Airbnb when travelling, and the number of Kenyan guests using Airbnb has tripled in the last 12 months. “The spirit of entrepreneurialism is a common thread that unites the Airbnb community across the globe,” said Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb. According to a press release from Airbnb, Chesky’s signature initiative as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) has been supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Cuba, where Airbnb launched in April.   It has already become its fastest-growing market.  The company says: “Many of the steps taken in Cuba to overcome challenges around internet literacy and mobile payment infrastructure will provide important lessons for Airbnb’s growth in Africa.” – Globetrender Magazine

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