By Leslie Youngblood
On-demand economy services have paved the way for innovation in everyday travel by reducing the cost for consumers and easing the accessibility of services.
Once, owning a car was a symbol of status, but today many young people see more status and ease in making use of services like Lyft, Uber, CarGo, etc. The sharing economy, including ridesharing, apartment and home lending, p2p lending, and even reselling is growing in all kinds of niches.
This sharing economy can also be utilized for business travel. Just like the carpool days of yore, now a couple of people can pool in money together and use a single rideshare car to go to work. This obviously saves each party money, reduces the traffic on roads and emits less pollution than if each person had taken a separate car. Ridesharing can also save businesses money in a number of other ways by utilizing the platform for client and employee travel.
Lyft Business recently introduced Lyft Concierge, where you can request rides from anywhere for anyone. Think about an important client flying into an airport. With this new Lyft service you can schedule a luxury vehicle to pick them up for less than your regular private car services, and save a fellow employee time and money from having to pick them up.
Going with an Airbnb residence instead of a hotel can save a business money on travel expenses as well.
It's Just the Beginning
The current state of the sharing economy is small compared to the possibility of what it could become in the future. The process of sharing resources (cars, homes, etc.) is less expensive and less demanding, because there is no third party involved. With the continued accessibility of more information about individuals and things, more physical resources may be used as a service.
Just like a person to person online business like eBay lets anyone become a seller, sharing sites let you make money off of something you own whenever it suits you. You just go online or download the necessary corresponding app. The model generally works best for things that are more expensive to buy but are commonly owned by people who do not make full usage of them. Sharing rooms and cars is the most common example, but you can also rent out camping spaces somewhere in Sweden, fields in the Australian countryside and even washing machines in Paris.
A Few Catches
Of course, nothing comes without any problems, and a significant issue with the sharing services is regulatory uncertainty and security. Some proponents argue over whether or not room renters should have to pay hotel taxes, and in some American cities Lyft-like taxi services have been banned after protests from traditional taxi drivers. Plus, we’ve all heard the horror stories of what happens when drivers are not properly vetted.
While the sharing economy is one of the newest and most booming examples of the value and power the internet brings to consumers, it is a model that’s still learning and growing. Nonetheless, it's definitely savvy and mature enough for businesses to start taking advantage of, and those that do will see a great benefit to their own bottom as well as their employees'.
Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for small businesses. You can tell her what you think about the future of the sharing economy by shooting her a line at email@example.com.