Pushing the boundaries in peer-to-peer marketplaces

Do you know who is sleeping in your hotel room? Social travel platforms are changing the hotel distribution landscape forever but a few might be taking the peer-to-peer travel concept a bit far.

Risky Business

The latest travel platform that has come across our desks is Easynest. The idea is that once you have booked your hotel room, you add it to your profile on this website. Other travelers can request to share the room with you, splitting the cost.

From a consumer’s perspective I am not sure how many people would be willing to share their room with a random stranger. Worse still, image if two double beds were on request and, upon arrival the hotel has none available. You would end up snuggling up with a snoring companion you have only just met in the lobby.

I presume the niche market it is targeting is very small or specific. Yes, maybe youngsters would be willing to do this while backpacking around the globe. But, you would still want to meet your roomie in person first.

Eventhough I admire the originality of the Easynest model, I am not really convinced it has a real future. It is definitely not meant for the mainstream market, instead it will have to find its niche rapidly and position itself clearly.

But it also brings other potential problems along. Surely the majority of its users will be normal people with the best of intentions, sharing the cost of a hotel room. But what about the possibility of people abusing Easynest with less noble intentions?

What if something happened to a guest sharing a room with a ‘perfect’ stranger? What if the hotel room is damaged or something is stolen, and the roomie is  not registered – who is liable? The hotel?

It only takes a few accidents for the creepiness of this whole idea to spread over the internet, and create a huge backlash. Funny enough, on its website Easynest actually mentions it isn’t ‘creepy’ at all. Hmmm ….

Action Steps

Of course it will be hard to police such new peer-to-peer travel initiatives, but you should be aware and prepared. So how should hotels brace themselves for the potential security and liability problems surrounding Easynest style situations.

Hotels should ensure their terms and conditions cover these kind of situations. In the booking conditions of your website, as well as on the check-in form, it should state clearly that reservations are non-transferable, and neither is the responsibility.

Moreover all guests must be registered at check-in providing official identification.

Actually, your hotel should already be prepared for this.

As we all know, a good amount of solo travelers seek companionship (casual or professional) while traveling. And not all of them have the best intentions either. Therefore, the hotel must clearly outline it is not responsible or liable for any ‘strangers’ a guest lets into their room.

Generous and Attractive Travelers

This brings me to another interesting travel website that has been in existence for quite a while now, Miss Travelonline dating meets online travel ….

As it says on its home page: ‘Date Abroad’, ‘Attractive Girls Travel Free’ and ‘Generous: Find a Travel Companion’. The options it offers are;

  • Come to Me
  • Show Me Your town
  • Travel With Me

Need I say more? Yes, your thoughts are the same as mine. Looks like sugar daddy travel dating with gold diggers, and perhaps with a great potential for prostitution.

Mind you commercially I think this might actually work. There are enough burning the midnight oil career guys or just well-off types, with plenty of budget who would go for this. They don’t have enough time (or skills) to get a ‘regular’ companion to travel with. Then, maybe consider joining ASW (‘a small world’).

The question remains whether these sites will be able to carve out a niche and find their sweet spot?

NB: See no evil… image via Shutterstock

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Patrick Landman

About the Writer :: Patrick Landman

Patrick Landman is a contributor to tnooz and founder and CEO of Xotels. This hotel management group assists independent hotels with revenue management, online marketing and internet distribution strategies.

They offer outsourcing services, coaching, consulting and training. In his blog, Patrick challenges hoteliers to think out of the box and not to accept the established order.

Through a passionate drive for growth and improvement he brings creative tips, ideas and best practices to the table that can help hotels drive up their bottom line.

In previous roles he has helped to develop businesses like RateTiger and Hotels.com into industry leaders. 

 

Comments

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  1. RobertKCole

    Have to assume some enterprising start-up OTA will begin dynamically packaging Air-Hotel-Car-Activities-Escorts for fun & profit.

    (Note to self: file as idea for future Tnooz THack…)

    Imagine the margins on the Escort component will put hotel merchant margins to shame…

    Plus the potential yield management options get very interesting. As Barbara noted the risks for participants above (which may be somewhat mitigated through verified user reviews, right?) could be managed through various pricing strategies.

     
  2. barbara

    The risks people are prepared to take when travelling never fail to shock me, so it’s of no surprise to see someone think enabling complete strangers to share a private hotel room is a viable business. Youth hostels work on the same concept albeit with some semblance of security with safety in numbers – there the most common problem is theft. But to share a hotel room with a complete stranger would be to throw all common sense and regard for personal safety out the window. What happens when there’s the first rape?

     
  3. Jack Machin

    It’s a good point that Web 2.0 brings some weird concepts and products, but that’s to me the least creative examples of peer-to-peer marketplaces in travel, I’d be interested to hear what you think about the innovative companies that are in the market and that are solving other big problems and issues –

    such as Airbnb (and their peers) that have created the p2p marketplace in apts. sharing, which has a big part in the new face of travel…
    Eatwith that have created a p2p marketplace for dining (www.eatwith.com) which can do what airbnb did – but for food,
    Roomer that have created a p2p marketplace for hotels (www.roomertravel.com) and say that they will do to travel what eBay did to hard goods,
    and many many more.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    JM

     
 
 

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