The Impact of the Collaborative & Sharing Economy on the Events Industry

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A new way of looking at event space and venue hire in London

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory. And Airbnb the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening”. We all saw this quote doing the rounds last year on Facebook, establishing the arrival of the collaborative economy.

According to Rachel Botsman, author of “What’s Mine is Yours” this is a new economic system that is enabling people to realise the enormous benefits of access to products and services over ownership and at the same time save money, space and time; make new friends and become active citizens once again. Brian Chesky when he launched Airbnb predicted that: “The status quo is being replaced by a movement. Peer to Peer is going to become the default way people exchange things whether it is space, stuff, skills or services”. Airbnb is predicted to book 129M room nights in 2016 compared to 37M room nights across the hotel industry. And although they are leading the way, the collaborative and sharing economy is growing fast across a number of industry sectors from car and boat sharing to peer-to-peer lending and unlocking under-utlised space. PwC has calculated that on a global basis, the sharing economy is set to rise to a massive £230bn by 2025.

So what does this mean for the meetings and events industry? It is clear the collaborative economy will fundamentally change the events industry in the next five years and here are some of the reasons why.

Sir John Soane Museum

Sir John Soanes Museum

Millennials are driving the Collaborative Economy
The drive towards a more collaborative and sharing approach to consumption is being driven by Millenials empowered by social technology; the scale and interactivity this brings and the belief that doing things together is greater than doing them on your own. This is important for the events industry as Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by
2025. And it has become apparent that their expectations differ from those of older generations. Studies have found that as many as 74% of Millennials want flexible work schedules, and as many as 88% favour the kind of collaborative culture offered by flexible working environments.

At the same time the world of work is going through a major transformation. In the U.S, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020, about 65 million Americans will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs, making up about 40% of the workforce. Concurrently, workspaces are sprouting around the country in order to accommodate the growing number of nomadic workers. Similarly in the UK there were 4.2 million home workers the highest level of home working since comparable records began. Micro businesses are also increasing, representing 96% of companies in the UK and employing more than 7 million people. They are predicted to account for 1.1 million new UK enterprises by 2024. According to Oxford Economics, self -employment will also increase by 15% in the next ten years. This estimated rise of 15% in the next 10 years will mean 5 million people in the UK will be self-employed by 2024. As a result there are ever more SMEs and microbusinesses in need of off-site venue hire and creative working.

 

Opening up more choice of event spaces to more audiences
The collaborative economy is helping to unlock thousands of unknown spaces that were previously sitting idle at a certain time of day, days of the week or months of the year. Already it is opening up spaces and events to different industries – research, photography, film location – a cross pollination of different audiences that didn’t happen before. It is bringing space to people who don’t have it and getting us to use event spaces differently. More choice in venue hire in London is also becoming important in terms of evaluating venues and their fit with a company’s brand.

Kachette

Railway Arch, Kachette

Democratization of Events
We are already seeing more and more DIY events driven by tribal gatherings and meet ups as well as by the huge growth in DIY events where companies, particularly SMEs, are organising their own one-day events with their own agendas and their own guest lists. In August 2015, Meetup.com had 22.77 million members in 180 countries with 210,240 groups. The idea that a 3rd party events company has to do this for a company is changing as the ease of looking to booking and enjoying your event is becoming more seamless and less time consuming to organise.
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More choice is delivering cheaper prices
With the growth in DIY events and the unlocking of thousands of under-utilised event spaces that our on-line marketplace is uncovering there are more amazing spaces available now at much cheaper prices and a greater choice of venue hire in London. Our most successful host has already had 14 bookings (a number of them repeat bookings) because they have opened up their own office space as a venue for hire in the evening and at weekends and only charge £250 per day.

CPG_CENTURY_CLUB

Roof Terrace, Century Club

Frictionless booking and payment
The demand for a more frictionless approach to how people search, book and pay for an event space as well as what we do in them is here. The uberfication of customer experience in every aspect of our life means that people who want to organise their own events and meetings will expect to be able to choose, access, pay and enjoy their experience with an event space really easily and quickly and do so again easily and quickly. This is going to drive the quality, service, accuracy and transparency people expect from hosts to a much higher standard than is currently offered; response times, the quality of the service and how people review this; the quality of Wi-fi and AV equipment are all going to make a difference to how many bookings an event space or venue hire in London gets.

Power shift from Hosts to Guests
Ultimately a fundamental change is taking place in the Events industry where there is a power shift away from traditional venue listing sites and the back room deals they have done with a small but concentrated number of host spaces to meeting the needs and demands of the guests looking for a venue for hire who are, after all, the customer. And this is has to be a good thing.

Andrew Needham recently spoke at Confex London on the topic of the Sharing Economy and the effect this is having on the events industry; for his full presentation please follow this link.

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