In the past period of time, the model of the sharing economy has risen rapidly and become popular around the world. The sharing economy refers to a business model in which people use the Internet and related technology platforms to share or rent idle resources (cars, houses) of individuals, enterprises, or organizations to create and harvest economic value. It emphasizes the sharing and full use of resources, in contrast to the traditional ownership model, and focuses on the realization and sharing of common interests, and does not rely on individual exclusive ownership (Puschmann & Alt, 2016).
The sharing economy has changed the way people think about resource utilization and service delivery. As representatives of the sharing economy, Airbnb and Uber have become the leaders of this change. This article will deeply analyze the impact of these two technology companies on individuals and society, including advantages and disadvantages, under the dynamics of the sharing economy.
Airbnb: A pioneer in monetizing resources
With the rapid development of science and technology, the idea of a sharing economy has penetrated into People’s Daily lives. Among the many sharing economy platforms, Airbnb stands out among the sharing economy platforms with its unique accommodation-sharing model, which has brought earth-shaking changes to the tourism industry.
Founded in 2007, Airbnb is a platform that allows individuals to convert their vacant properties into short-term rental units. It provides travelers with a richer choice of accommodation, while also providing hosts with an additional source of income. According to Airbnb, as of 2023, more than 4 million hosts and more than 1.5 billion people have stayed in Airbnb properties.
It’s fair to say that Airbnb offers a more personalized experience for travelers. Compared to traditional hotels, travelers can choose from more diverse accommodations on the Airbnb platform, such as houses with different styles and different amenities. Booking a room is also easy, and visitors usually only need to make direct contact with the host on the platform. In some cases, travelers may want to choose a place to stay for the purpose of interacting with the culture of the destination (Guttentag, 2019), and having a local host as a guide can be a good choice. This personalized service may make travelers feel more cared for during the trip.
Second, Airbnb offers cheaper accommodation options than traditional hotels. Studies have shown that in general, hotel prices tend to be higher than Airbnb prices, so travelers are more willing to budget for accommodations in order to extend their stays or increase the frequency of their trips (Perez-Sanchez et al., 2018). Choosing Airbnb doesn’t have to come at the expense of the quality of your stay, either, as it provides a satisfying experience at a relatively low cost. As a result, price is one of the main reasons why many travelers choose Airbnb over hotels. In addition, Airbnb hosts are often willing to provide some additional amenities, such as kitchens, washing machines, etc., which will provide great convenience for travelers traveling as a family (Lin, 2020).
Uber: The leader in reinventing transportation
Uber is another leader in the sharing economy besides Airbnb. It is famous for its convenient taxi service. Through its advanced mobile app, Uber provides riders with an easy-to-use platform that enables them to conveniently hail a ride anytime, anywhere.
Founded in 2010, Uber’s business model is also based on the idea of the sharing economy, by connecting private car owners and passengers together to form a vast ride-hailing network. This mode not only allows car owners to make full use of their idle resources and time but also provides passengers with a cheaper and more convenient mode of transportation than traditional taxis.
Uber’s business model breaks through the traditional transportation model. It can be said that Uber is a more cost-effective option than the traditional taxi business because it also provides a similar service (Berger et al., 2018). Uber is able to offer a more affordable low-end service because it has an efficient technology matching system that effectively connects drivers and passengers through time and place analysis (Lokhandwala & Cai, 2018). In general, the traditional taxi industry often suffers from relatively high prices, difficulty booking, or inconsistent service quality, while Uber’s peer-to-peer model not only shortens the waiting time for passengers but also improves the reliability and quality of the service.
Uber’s success also lies in its flexible supply chain management and pricing mechanism (Jiao, 2018). It uses a dynamic pricing model, adjusting prices according to changes in demand and supply, thus ensuring that the supply can remain sufficient during peak hours to meet the needs of users. Uber’s dynamic pricing model, based on demand and supply, means that prices may rise during peak hours or when demand exceeds supply, encouraging more drivers to start taking orders while reducing demand for some riders and keeping supply and demand in balance. Instead, during low peak hours or when there is an oversupply, prices may be lowered to attract more passengers to the service. The dynamic pricing model also helps balance supply and demand across different regions and time periods. It can incentivize drivers to go to areas where demand is higher, allowing the service to cover a wider area (Jiao, 2018).
In addition, it is worth emphasizing that both Airbnb and Uber place great emphasis on building trust and evaluation systems in order to build a relatively safe and reliable transaction environment for customers. The two platforms encourage mutual evaluation between hosts or drivers and guests, which allows participants to have a more comprehensive understanding of each other’s credit status, further consolidating the foundation of mutual trust in the sharing economy. At the same time, it also provides a valuable reference for future potential customers.
Opposing view: The negative case for Airbnb and Uber
At present, the sharing economy has become an important dynamic for technology companies. Representative companies such as Airbnb and Uber have changed the way people live. However, this emerging economic model has also aroused some controversy and opposition.
The sharing economy is a complex and multi-layered phenomenon. As highlighted by John(2016), it has significant potential to promote sustainability or other advantages from multiple perspectives. At the same time, the sharing economy also brings some potential problems, including regulatory difficulties and security issues, as well as fair distribution of benefits.
One potential counterargument could be that the sharing economy model could weaken the traditional economic system, leading to declines and job losses in some industries (Fodranová & Antalová, 2021). Particularly in the traditional hospitality and taxi industries, the rise of Airbnb and Uber has led to some controversy. It has been widely argued that the rapid growth of Airbnb has affected the traditional hotel industry. However, according to some hotel executives and the Airbnb platform, there is complementarity between hotels and Airbnb and it is a healthy competition (Zervas et al., 2017). Their reciprocal relationship will lead to progress on both sides.
Another possible objection is that the sharing economy could lead to market misalignments and regulatory issues (Mosaad et al., 2023). Some people worry that this model could create security and legal problems for consumers and service providers. For example, some Airbnb properties may be a security risk or some Uber drivers may commit crimes against passengers while driving. These problems do exist, but they are not problems arising from the sharing economy model itself, but challenges arising in the practice process, which need to be addressed by the platform through appropriate regulation and policy.
In conclusion, Airbnb and Uber represent the great success of the sharing economy in the tech industry. They not only provide people with more flexible and convenient services but also provide an additional source of income for many people. With their foresight and innovation, these two companies have set a model for the sharing economy and also shaped the development dynamics of the sharing economy. In the future, with the continuous progress of technology and the deepening of social cognition of the sharing economy model, it can be predicted that the sharing economy will have more significant development and innovation in various fields. However, platforms and users also need to work together to address the challenges posed by the sharing economy to ensure that the model continues to have the most positive impact on society.
Berger, T., Chen, C., & Frey, C. B. (2018). Drivers of disruption? Estimating the Uber effect. European Economic Review, 110, 197–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2018.05.006
Fodranová, I., & Antalová, M. (2021). How Can Digital Sharing Economy Reduce Unemployment? Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 16(1), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-27242021000100051
Guttentag, D. (2019). Progress on Airbnb: A literature review. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 10(4), 814–844. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTT-08-2018-0075
Jiao, J. (2018). Investigating Uber price surges during a special event in Austin, TX. Research in Transportation Business & Management, 29, 101–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rtbm.2018.02.008
John, N. A. (2016). The Age of Sharing. Polity Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/usyd/detail.action?docID=4770940
Lin, P. M. C. (2020). Is Airbnb a Good Choice for Family Travel? Journal of China Tourism Research, 16(1), 140–157. https://doi.org/10.1080/19388160.2018.1551167
Lokhandwala, M., & Cai, H. (2018). Dynamic ride sharing using traditional taxis and shared autonomous taxis: A case study of NYC. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, 97, 45–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trc.2018.10.007
Mosaad, M., Benoit, S., & Jayawardhena, C. (2023). The dark side of the sharing economy: A systematic literature review of externalities and their regulation. Journal of Business Research, 168, 114186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2023.114186
Perez-Sanchez, V. R., Serrano-Estrada, L., Marti, P., & Mora-Garcia, R.-T. (2018). The What, Where, and Why of Airbnb Price Determinants. Sustainability, 10(12), Article 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124596
Puschmann, T., & Alt, R. (2016). Sharing Economy. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 58(1), 93–99. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12599-015-0420-2
Zervas, G., Proserpio, D., & Byers, J. W. (2017). The Rise of the Sharing Economy: Estimating the Impact of Airbnb on the Hotel Industry. Journal of Marketing Research, 54(5), 687–705. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmr.15.0204