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Flight Centre guru downplays impact of Uber and Airbnb

April 28, 2015 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Just as online travel agents failed to have much impact on physical bricks-and-mortar travel agencies, recent peer-to-peer start-ups like Uber and Airbnb are small fry who receive too much publicity.

Those are the views of Flight Centre’s product, advertising and consumer experience general manager Keith Stanley.

Stanley’s comments, made during a panel discussion at the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit, were duly reported by the media, marketing and entertainment website

Stanley was fairly dismissive of the advent of applications and sites such as Uber and Airbnb. Along with Couchsurfing and others, these are aspects of the so-called “sharing economy” (sometimes referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, mesh, collaborative economy or collaborative consumption). Their services are cheaper because they have fewer overheads.

Stanley feels such enterprises are overestimated. He said they seemed destined to remain a small part of the industry and they received too much attention. Predictions that 90% of people would stay at someone else’s house were “just ludicrous”.

Stanley pointed out that online travel agents hadn’t become “the major part of the distribution channel” and indications were that Uber and the others would play a similarly minor role in their respective sectors.

Both Airbnb and Uber sprang from one of the most creative cities in the US: San Francisco. Both are headquartered there.

Uber, valued at anything between USD 20 billion and USD 40 billion (depending on who you believe), lets passengers use an app to summon cars via smartphones in more than 250 cities around the world.

Homestay accommodation site Airbnb is valued at about USD 20 billion – or, at least, it was raising a new round of funding in March 2015 that would place its valuation at that level.

Written by Peter Needham

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