Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 08 2015

How This DMO Is Diving Deeper Into The Sharing Economy

By Mary Reynolds Kane

In late July, San Francisco made plenty of headlines in the meetings industry after announcing a first-of-its-kind partnership with peer-to-peer rental company Airbnb. Now, the city is getting even more serious about supporting the sharing economy via a new destination promotion partnership with mobile app ride-sharing service Lyft. In the partnership, San Francisco Travel will help fund a “Ride About Town” credit of up to $10 for first-time Lyft users. If you aren’t familiar with Lyft, the service is very similar to Uber with one notable aesthetic exception: Lyft cars have bright pink “Glowstaches” on their dashboards.

The move underscores San Francisco Travel’s position as an early adopter in the sharing landscape. While many DMOs have struggled to navigate the regulations surrounding sharing services such as Airbnb, Lyft and Uber, the organization recognizes that if travelers and meeting attendees like the services, it’s important to determine how to work with them. In many cases, this undoubtedly involves working to appease existing partners — such as hotels and taxi unions — who may feel threatened by new competition.

SEE ALSO: Uber Looks To Cash In On Conventions

In San Francisco, city leaders have been way ahead of the game. In fact, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee formed The Sharing Economy Working Group in 2012 to “take a comprehensive look at the economic benefits, innovative companies and emerging policy issues around the growing ‘sharing economy.’” At the time of the group’s launch, leaders highlighted that San Francisco needed to take a forward-thinking approach to reevaluating the laws and regulations that were stifling the growth of sharing.

Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that the working group’s early efforts are paying off. For meeting planners who choose San Francisco as a host city, the city’s destination marketing organization can point them to rental properties to achieve peak attendance during citywide conventions. For attendees, the organization’s Lyft partnership will save them a few bucks on getting around town.

SEE ALSO: Why It’s Time To Start Thinking About Airbnb’s Impact On Your Room Block

Sharing And Your Meeting

The concept of sharing is about more than services like hotels and transportation, though. Late last year, Dave Lutz, CMP, made a great point in Convene about the potential for sharing to disrupt the one worry on every meeting planner’s mind: registration numbers.

“Companies may send fewer participants to major conferences — not because of cost cutting, but because of increased sharing and knowledge-transfer improvement among team members,” Lutz wrote.

Could that be true? How do you think the sharing economy will reshape the meetings industry? Share your perspective on what sharing means for meetings in the comments section below.

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