Are sharing platforms sustainable (business models)? A consumer survey on the drivers of using sharing platforms in the travel industry

Jorna Leenheer, Marco Kuijten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Both growing consumer awareness regarding the effects of excessive consumption and the existence of worldwide internet platforms have contributed to the rise of the sharing economy. Internet platforms for consumer sharing and collaborative consumption are considered sustainable business models, because consumers make use of each other’s unused capacity reducing resources needed. In particular the sharing of accommodation through internet platforms is very popular, with Airbnb and Couchsurfing as the best known platforms. This chapter investigates whether sharing platforms in the travel industry can be considered sustainable (business models) and how they impact hotels that have always offered stable supply to travelers. By means of a representative survey among 2591 Dutch consumers, the key stakeholders of the platforms, we investigate the use, perceived value and market position of both sharing platforms and hotels. Our research shows that the platforms are well-known, 8.8% of Dutch consumers have used them and this number will approximately double in the next three years. Current users are typically are between 25 and 34 years, and either high- or low-educated but not so much medium-level educated (professional education). Social value and not so much economic value is the main driver for travelers to choose for a sharing alternative, perceived sustainable considerations play a minor role. Furthermore, given the price attractiveness of sharing platforms they may increase travel consumption, making sharing platforms unsustainable from an ecological point of view. The competiveness of sharing platforms puts downward pressure on the market for overnight stays. However, given that consumers’ preferences for sharing alternatives are not mainly financially driven, hotels better innovate in their business models to guarantee continuance, rather than to compete on price. Possible innovations can be found in partnerships with local business, local communities, and even Airbnb landlords. In sum, sharing platforms create more value than economic value only, but at the same time the supposed positive environmental impact is somewhat controversial. More research is needed on the exact considerations for choosing for sharing alternatives versus hotels at specific trips since many travelers are currently using both alternatives next to each other. Replication of the research in other countries is useful as well to draw more far-reach conclusions on this timely topic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Business Models
Subtitle of host publicationPrinciples, Promise, and Practice
EditorsL. Moratis, F. Melissen, S. Idowu
Place of PublicationCham
ISBN (Electronic)9783319735030
ISBN (Print)9783319735023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Publication series

Name CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series


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