Associations and the sharing economy: Coming to a meeting near you
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
It's clear that annual meetings are the pinnacle of any organization. They are the forefront of what the organization has to offer members, ranging in everything from continuing education to the largest gathering of the greatest minds in the field.
Members are not just looking to pad their Rolodex, they want a show. According to an article on Successful Meetings, "creating a lasting impression on attendees is key to continuous attendance growth and conference longevity."
While hotels and their event spaces still stand as the traditional and more popular places to host, a quiet disruptor is slowly making a name for itself in the meetings space. Enter the sharing economy: providing the full experience meeting-goers are seeking — specifically, offering lodging alternatives through vacation rentals.
Industry leader Airbnb has already been successful in this space, with the most notable being the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and the most recent being the College Football Playoff National Championship in January. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "Airbnb reported $1.9 million in economic activity generated from rooms booked in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Florida, making it the single biggest event for the online room booking and home sharing service in Tampa Bay."
What started as a simple idea is now being considered as a more viable hospitality product for business travelers attending conferences and large events who want an alternative, more personalized travel experience. The embrace has been slow, but with the uptick in room availability through this platform it is certainly looking as a great way to add to the room block while still creating a customized experience.
Toby Babich, Vacation Rental Managers Association board member/treasurer and vacation rental company owner, has witnessed a shift in his clientele over the years since starting his company back in 2008. While he currently services the Breckenridge, Colorado, area, with 50 homes and condos, he is not seeing just leisure travelers, but also lodging for wedding guests and events.
"Travel patterns are constantly shifting in Breck due to our in-state market and growing international and destination travel market," Babich said. "The more we dedicate ourselves to providing a unique and memorable experience, the more we capture new demographics and market share. Travelers are demanding more from their vacations."
Babich attributes the growing popularity of this lodging option to its ease of use and ability to customize the experience for every traveler.
"In the competitive travel market of today, and with increasing supply of properties, property management companies are increasingly delivering more amenities and professional services to travelers, while providing a personal and unique experience unlike your standard hotel," Babich concluded.
The future of any conference or meeting is dependent on myriad factors, and lodging plays a huge role. Being aware of industry trends is imperative to its continued success. As vacation rental owners can attest, a disruptor of this capacity can only aid in progressing its future.
As the lodging options grow, so does the number of attendees.
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