by Jennifer Lee | August 01, 2017
In today's world of peer-to-peer services, most of us know about Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. But how about Showslice, a new take on co-location? Or ClassPass, a network of gyms around the world for attendees who need to feel the burn? Or Kinglet, where anyone who needs a desk to work at can find one? And what does this all mean to association meetings?

"Everyone is really struggling to understand what the sharing economy is and what the implications are going to be," says Barbara Myers, CEO of IMN Solutions, a global, full-service association-, meeting- and event-management company based in the Washington, D.C., area. "I try to stress that once association  planners learn how to tap into all the different things there are to integrate into their events, they will save money and improve the experience for attendees."

Possibilities range from on-site to after-hours resources. London-based Showslice, for example, allows event organizers to share costs relating to logistics, setups, production, staging and labor. If, say, one group is building a registration area, its Showslice partner coming in next can use the same setup but change the signage, and the two split the costs.

For when the meeting is over, ClassPass offers a type of fitness membership that grants users access to thousands of classes at studios and gyms in cities across the U.S. and around the world, letting  attendees exercise away from home and offering opportunities for sponsorship deals, a potentially valuable source of revenue for associations.

Monetization also could result from membership in Kinglet, a network of organizations that are willing to rent out unused office space. Potential tenants search inventory online, take a virtual tour of the office and, if the space is satisfactory, immediately submit an application to move in.

When it comes to using home-sharing services such as Airbnb, it could take some finesse for association planners to get buy-in from traditionally risk-averse boards of directors, says Steven Hacker, former president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions & Events. Hacker says it's important to carefully research the pros and cons, see what other associations have done, and organize some focus groups and/or surveys to determine member interest. If the idea resonates with enough members, propose an alternative-housing option as a beta test at a future event.

"The nice thing about association management is that there's really no manual," notes Hacker. "It's common sense and staying in tune with the unique culture of each organization."