New IAPCO Findings Shed Light on Impact of Sharing Economy

There's been a lot of speculation and predictions in the industry media and social network channels about the impact of Airbnb and other sharing-economy suppliers on the room nights booked by corporations, as well as its impact on the meetings and events industry. I haven't seen anything solid in terms of quantification data on the impact of these suppliers __ until now.

The recent release of figures from none other than the International Association of Professional Conference Organizers quantifies that the sharing economy is driving down the number of hotel room nights booked by meeting planners.

IAPCO's figures reveal the number of room nights booked by their members (including associations, government and corporate) fell by 1.4 million, to 2.43 million in 2015. Their membership survey also indicated that the rise of delegates booking accommodations through sharing-economy sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO had prompted the decline.

That is the first data point I can recall that actually quantifies the sharing economy's impact to the events marketplace. It also was a vote of confidence for the sharing economy when Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded hotel stocks in anticipation of growth by sharing-economy suppliers. A leading financial institution like Bank of America wouldn't downgrade traditional hotel stocks if their own research didn't show some shifts in booking preferences from traditional to nontraditional hotel experiences.

A note published by BofAML analysts cited pressures on the lodging sector, such as "soft" corporate demand; a glut of brick-and-mortar hotels; and market pressures exacerbated by the Internet, including the rise of home-sharing options like Airbnb as the reasons for the downgrade.

Some other interesting data from the survey:

· The number of events organized by corporate IAPCO members soared to 4,537, up from 1,200 in 2014.
· Corporate events organized by members account for more than half (53 percent) of the events organized by the entire IAPCO membership.
· Overall figures were positive, with 8,591 events organized by the IAPCO membership.
· Average participants per event fell by 9 percent, to 368, the lowest figure since 2010.
· Average spend per delegate was USD$1,816; €1,620; £1,276.

If anyone has similar data based on corporate travel surveys targeting transient hotel spend, please share it with us!

Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto.