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Phil Carter, ARUP

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Mainstreaming of Collaborative Consumption

A few things will hallmark the year of 2014 for me, and one of them is jumping into the collaborative consumption economy – making the transition from being advocate to participant. GoGet and Car Next Door have been things that certainly made my car-less life easier – not having to put everything I buy through the ‘can I carry this?’ or ‘can I take this on a bus?’ filter.

While these companies are part of the collaborative economy, it has only been hosting on Airbnb that gave me the true feeling of being part of it. It isn’t the sharing of my physical space that makes me feel ‘part of it', but more the sharing of stories and experiences about my city, my neighbourhood and 'Australianisms'. It is this sharing of local knowledge and face to face interaction that gives Airbnb its edge over generic, de-personalised hotel chains, and they (airbnb) have spent a lot of time and money on building their brand and culture around this – defining what it means to be part of their community.

But what happens when a community or trust based company grows from local to global? A few of our friends also host on airbnb and we have all seen a pattern that generally, the early adopters are the ones who are more likely to swap stories over a beer or breakfast, while the late adopters are less likely to engage or understand the brand, and more likely to show up on your doorstep expecting a hotel. So will the shift in consumer values from ownership to access and sharing be a trend that becomes part of future life? Or will it be something that was big in the 2010’s, really great for a while, but didn’t quite sustain itself in the mainstream because people didn't quite get it. - Elise, Place Maker