November 2, 2016

The sharing economy is definitely here to stay, statistics show that ⅓ of all travellers are using some kind of sharing economy service, whether that means renting private home accommodation or sharing a cab through apps like Uber and Lyft.  The sharing economy has been fueled by the world’s great recession and our need to cut down on spending while pursuing a sense of exploration; and within the tourism sector- wanderlust. This pursuit of discovery and experiential living has been stimulated by the world’s ever increasing entrepreneurial spirit and a philosophical drive to make the world better through unity.

What is the sharing economy?

So, how do we define the sharing economy? It can be defined as open, peer to peer, consumer driven trade across digital platforms. The sharing economy says access to goods and services is an alternative to traditional ownership.

The sharing economy as it relates to vacation rental properties has been developed and propelled into its massive success by private service providers as a digital matchmaking service. The industry includes individual do-it-yourself homeowners, as well as well known suppliers like us here at Caribound. It a lucrative market with super growth opportunities, with PWC anticipating the total revenue opportunity in twenty years being $335 billion. The benefits that have driven its success are informality, reduced cost and the travellers yearning for a truly authentic, independent and often private travel experience.  Yet this growth is not without challenges and obstacles which we must overcome.

Main Issues

Maintaining High Standards

The main concern in relation to the sharing economy is to level the playing field between hotels and vacation rentals. Hoteliers in Barbados have certainly felt the effects of the sharing economy, the statistics show that although arrivals increased by 14% to Barbados in 2015, hotel occupancy decreased by 3%. Statistics show that the vacation rental sector of the market represents 30% of all arrivals.  Hotels are required to pay high taxes, protect each and every guest with high international insurance coverage and maintain globally recognized health and safety standards which have been key to our reputation as a leading tourism destination.

Protecting our Reputation

Private Home rentals are for the most part unregulated in the Caribbean which means anyone with a property can take a few photos with their camera phone, upload them to the web, name their price and availability and immediately be in business. This is an amazing concept but can also be a little scary. It was quite rightly recognized at SOTIC that “Peer to Peer can be the Best but it can also be the worst”

Barbados is a destination known and carefully branded worldwide for our excellence in hospitality. We have worked tirelessly to build that reputation, not to mention the millions of dollars in advertising investment that Barbados spends annually to maintain that perception.  Protecting the reputation of our product and offering is of utmost concern.  Our standards and reputation matters.

We at Caribound deeply believe that the Caribbean Tourism Industry needs trusted brands in the Vacation Rental Space to consolidate our offering and offer consistently high hospitality and safety standards throughout a wide portfolio of rental properties. That’s why we apply our exacting selection standards in curating a portfolio of products that represents the best in the industry. We only represent properties that are ideal for the vacation rental space with determining factors including  location, amenities and safety and security to name a few. To maintain the primacy of the hospitality gold-standard, our support staff is on hand to provide top concierge services; combining the amenity value usually associated with hotels and their front desk to the exclusivity and privacy of the vacation rental. Our staff advise on those details that distinguish- from  implementation on staging and neutral furniture packages to general maintenance. Additionally,  in maintaining our high standards we undertake Health and Safety Inspections to ABTA Standard and provide assistance in the process of getting the property ABTA compliant.

At Caribound, we ensure that the opportunity of the sharing economy never becomes a threat to the reputation and excellence of the regional industry.