Collaborative Economy Could Have Serious Implications for Meetings

Posted by Kevin Iwamoto on 04/01/2014

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Guest post written by Michelle Bruno, MPC
Michelle Bruno is a writer, blogger, content strategist and publisher specializing in event-industry technology. Visit her LinkedIn profile at Linkedin.com/in/michellejbruno.  
Living in an economy where people fund, make, and share services with each other is defined by researcher Jeremiah Owyang as a, “Collaborative Economy.” It is a strong, growing movement that encompasses pre-owned goods, professional services, transportation, and space rentals—all of which are components of the meetings and events industry – and large corporations are paying attention.

In 2013, Owyang launched Crowd Companies, an association dedicated to helping large brands engage with the Collaborative Economy. Numerous corporations, including Verizon, Adobe, Staples, Avis, Walgreens, Daimler AG, and Home Depot, have bought into the concept.

It sounds wonderful— except that when individuals buy from each other instead of buying from companies, they upset traditional business models. This new Collaborative Economy has the potential to disrupt the meetings and events industry in a number of ways:

  • Low-cost lodging alternatives, such as Air BnB, take attendees away from contracted housing, making attrition more of an issue for event planners;
  • Ride-sharing services, like Uber or Lyft, change the transportation dynamic around a meeting or destination by disrupting taxi business models, city taxes, and traffic;
  • Sharing services place event planners at odds with corporate policies designed to safeguard and protect employees;
  • The use of unsanctioned services by event participants causes planners to lose some ability to negotiate discounts and amenities;
  • Meeting at locations outside of convention centers and hotels, or virtually through mobile and other technologies, redefine the meeting environment; and
  • The questioning of excess over access, a core principle of the Collaborative Economy, leads to fundamental changes in meetings design.

What should meeting professionals do to prepare? Make it a top priority to join discussions around the Collaborative Economy.  Planners and suppliers need to understand the implications of sharing resources and draft policies, or best practices, around engaging in or refraining from such activities. Event planners must assess their coverage as new types of insurance policies emerge. And, if the Collaborative Economy represents an opportunity rather than a threat, event planners should prepare to benefit from this unique collaboration.

Are you on board with the Collaborative Economy? Share your thoughts with us below.


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