Disintermediation and Destination Management – What should cities do about growth of Airbnb?


It was standing room only at a discussion on Disintermediation and Destination Management in the Travel Tech Theatre late on Monday at WTM. “I think the classic package holiday is a thing of the past,” said Garry Wilson, Managing Director, Product and Purchasing at TUI Group, adding that what was most interesting for companies like TUI is the way in which Airbnb and new players are interacting with the customer. “There is a very holistic approach in terms of talking to other customers, to hosts and to other people in destinations as they make their mind up,” he added.

“How do these universal platforms adapt to the different realities of different cities and DMOs,” asked Jordi William Carnes, General Manager of Turisme de Barcelona. “London is a different reality from Copenhagen or Paris or Barcelona. The sharing economy is all right. Sharing the benefits would be better.”

“I think the classic package holiday is a thing of the past” Garry Wilson, Managing Director, Product and Purchasing at TUI Group

Anja Hartung Sfyrla, Head of Business Development, VisitDenmark said that the country was working well with the likes of Airbnb and other home sharing platforms, explaining that not only had the country put in place legislation in terms of how long people can rent out their accommodation, it was also putting in place a new government policy on home sharing websites.

Nikki White Wright, Director of Destinations and Sustainability at ABTA, said as an industry body “it is all very well have frameworks, but how will we enforce them?” and that ABTA wants to see a level playing field for all involved stakeholders. James McClure, UK & Ireland General Manager, Airbnb, replied that rather than a level playing field, the industry should have a “proportional playing field” so that someone who only rents out a room for a certain number of nights a year has to meet a “proportionate amount of legislation” compared to someone who runs a B&B for 365 days a year.

The discussion concluded by looking at issues around overcrowding. “People will go where they want to go,” said Barcelona’s Jordi Carne. “But we can set up initatives to encourage people to see new neighbourhoods.” Airbnb’s James Mclure added that research his company had undertaken this year found that 50% of people would rather go to the dentist than experience overcrowded destinations or experiences with excessively long queues. Garry Wilson from TUI said when assessing new destinations they look to ensure a maximum amount of positive impact with a minimum disruption, citing the hotel schools they have set up in Morocco and the Taste of Fethiye project supporting local farmers to supply all inclusive hotels in Turkey. ‘For us the sharing economy is about looking at how widely we can share the benefits of us running tourism in their destinations,” he said.

Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive.

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