Weekly Insights: Trade Shows & the Sharing Economy

Photo: DeathtotheStockPhoto.com
Photo: DeathtotheStockPhoto.com

Ever since sites like Uber (for ride sharing) and Airbnb (for home sharing) arrived on the scene a few years ago, meeting planners have largely ignored them as insignificant. But no more.

Just this week, Uber announced UberEvents, which will allow planners to provide discounted and/or free ride passes for attendees. These passes can be set for specific dates as well as pickup and drop off points so that attendees will only be using them for transportation to or from the event. And planners are only charged for the ones that are redeemed, up to a maximum value.

While ride sharing may not feel threatening to planners, home sharing has raised a few eyebrows. The fear is that attendees might use services like Airbnb to avoid expensive room blocks. News flash … they already are! In fact, the company was founded out of an idea to provide beds for attendees at a conference in San Francisco, and they have an entire division focused on business travel. The reality is that planners never did have control over where their attendees choose to sleep. So why not find a way to tag-team with the popular online services? Besides the cost savings, Airbnb users also express that they choose the service in order to feel more of a connection with the host city, which can also enhance their overall event experience. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?

So what about you … have you used any of these types of services while attending conferences or trade shows? Or as a show organizer, have you considered teaming up with any of these companies for your attendees’ benefit? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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