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Younger Travelers Take Step Back From Sharing Economy

by Felicity Long

Sep 6, 2019

Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

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Hotels or AirBnB? Taxis or Uber? There’s no question the sharing economy revolutionized not only the way we live but also the way we travel. We thought it would be interesting to explore how the different generations feel about using these services both here and at home, and we found, surprisingly, it’s the younger adults shifting back to traditional travel services.

 

According to the fifth annual Allianz Travel Insurance Sharing Economy Index, millennials and Gen Xers are shifting back to the old way of doing things, even though more and more major travel brands enter the sharing economy market. The downward trend represents a significant change since 2017, especially in the trust and likelihood on the part of these groups to actually use these services.

 

Just look at the numbers. About four out of 10 Americans responded they are either “very” or “somewhat” likely to use them during their 2019 summer travels, compared to 47 percent in 2018 and 50 percent in 2017, according to the survey,

 

If you look deeper, it’s the Gen driving the largest downward trend in usage, with 41 percent saying they will use sharing economy services this summer, down from 60 percent two years ago. That’s a big drop. On the flip side, while millennials’ usage of these services dropped from 77 percent two years ago to 63, they still make up the largest generation of users. Even more specifically, those millennials tend to be male and higher income earners (above $50,000) over their counterparts.

 

As to whether any group is on an upward trend, the simple answer is “yes,” and it’s the Baby Boomers, whose usage of these services has risen from 19 percent to 24 percent in the same time period — although obviously this represents the smallest of the generational groups.

 

And one final statistic: Two-thirds of parents of any age who have children trust sharing economy services, and more than half of them are likely to actually use them.

 

What does this all mean? Probably the most glaring reason for the dip in usage is trust, as anyone whose home stay isn’t what they expected or whose driver keeps them waiting on the sidewalk in the dark probably already knows. The survey found that while millennials are the most likely to trust sharing economy services, that level of trust is down, and the other groups also report a decrease in how trustworthy they perceive these services to be.

 

Family staying at a hotel

Photo: Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

“When we created this index five years ago, we knew that trust would be crucial to the health of the sharing economy,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications, Allianz Global Assistance. “The simultaneous drops in trust and usage highlight the main challenge that players providing sharing economy services will need to address.”

 

Bottom line, travelers are seeking more consistent, reliable travel experiences with high-quality customer service. To that end, a number of travel and hospitality companies are entering the sharing economy market.

 

For example, Marriott recently announced a six-month trial with Hostmaker, a London-based homestay property management company. Other major hotel brand names like Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham are also considering investments in similar home sharing businesses.

 

“These kinds of partnerships have the potential to convert customers seeking the authenticity and privacy of a home rental with assurances of the quality of experience, backed by a trusted brand name,” Durazo said.

 

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