New IAPCO Findings Shed Light on Impact of Sharing Economy

KI-0616By Kevin Iwamoto, Senior Consultant

There’s been a lot of speculation and predictions in the industry media and social network channels speculating 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. So far I haven’t seen anything solid in terms of quantification data on the impact of the sharing economy suppliers, until now.

The recent release of figures from none other than the International Association of Professional Conference Organizers (IAPCO) 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 2.43m 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 hotel experiences to non-traditional stay 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 Inc. as the reasons for the downgrade.

Some other interesting data from the survey:

  • Number of events organized by corporate IAPCO members soared to 4,537, up 1,200 from the 2014
  • Corporate events organized by members accounts for more than half (53 per cent) of the events organized by the entire IAPCO membership
  • Association member data revealed a big drop to 37% of total membership activity vs. 44 percent in 2014
  • Overall figures were positive with 8,591 events organized by the IAPCO membership
  • Average participants per event fell by 9 per cent to 368, the lowest figure since 2010
  • Average spend per delegate was: USD $1816, €1,620 £1,276

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


This article originally appeared in Meetings & Conventions on June 10, 2016. For more information, please click here.

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