sharing economy travel

They’re ready to share…

What was fringe is now mainstream in vacation lodging and transportation. When it comes to “the sharing economy” represented by the likes of AirBnB and Uber, awareness, trust, and usage are all rising dramatically.

That’s the conclusion of the second annual Allianz Travel Insurance Sharing Economy Index from Allianz Global Assistance USA. “More than double the amount of Americans plan to use sharing economy services for their travel plans this summer compared to 2015 due to an increase in familiarity and trust,” the report noted.

Apparently travelers of all types and budgets are getting more comfortable with these services.

The analysis found that one in three Americans (36 percent) say they are likely to use sharing economy services such as AirBnB, HomeAway, Uber or Lyft during their summer vacation this year. This is up from last year when just 17 percent of Americans said they were likely to use these services.

As you may expect, millennials are leading the surge. Their likeliness to use jumped from 37 percent to 65 percent in just one year. While it’s tempting to see this trend as a budget travel tactic though, Americans with an annual income of $50K or more are more likely to use sharing economy services than those with an income less than $50K.

How does this play out when we get to the luxury lodging level? Time will tell, but high-end villa rentals are nothing new, of course. It just wasn’t called “the sharing economy” when people put their mansion up for rent on HomeAway or with a local agency for $15,000 per night. That experience—with the expected private chef and concierge—is a whole different category than the city dweller renting out an extra bedroom with a shared bath. Rise of the sharing economy - villa for rent in Costa Rica

The survey found that more Americans are utilizing the sharing economy because they think it provides better value (26 percent; up nine percent), but also the more authentic local experience (22 percent; up 10 percent). Where traditional services such as hotels and travel agents hold their advantage though is the back-up aspect. Respondents felt they provide better customer support when things go wrong (40 percent).

Luxury travelers have certainly embraced Uber and Lyft in their regular lives for the convenience factor (especially the “no cash needed” aspect). They’re probably more likely to use a professional driver from Blacklane or a similar service, however, when they want to arrive in style. They’ll book a villa for their family or a wedding, but if they’re spending tens of thousands of dollars they’re not so likely to give up the personal service of a destination specialist or travel planner by taking their chances renting directly through an owner.

What are your thoughts? How do sharing economy services compare to what you get with traditional options for lodging and transportation?

Thanks to Allianz for sponsoring this post, providing travel coverage for the unexpected. Luxury Latin America received financial compensation from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) but all opinions are our own.