Pulse September 2015 - Page 29

P: Is there a particular demographic driving the popularity of the sharing economy? G: Initially, millennials represented a large group of early adopters. However, recent research (since 2012) has shown that people from young teens through into their 80s are exploring life and work styles based on sharing. For many retirees who still own homes, share-based services allow them to generate income from their home or do tasks like dog-sitting for others in their community. P: What do you see as the biggest hurdle that may prevent companies from implementing this model in their business? G: For most existing businesses and brands, the biggest hurdle is blindness to the idea. It’s really quite easy for any type of business to explore and experiment with new models, markets or partnerships as a way to turning their “sell it once to one person” model into a platform or open model wherein a product or service can be shared or accessed by many. Real estate is a perfect example. In years past, businesses owned or leased a building, used it when they needed and left it vacant when business was closed. If 20 percent of the space was no longer needed, business owners thought they were stuck with the space and so costs would increase. Shared models invite collaboration. Vacant retail spaces can be offered via marketplaces like Storefront and office spaces can be provided to services like Breather or turned into a permanent co-working space like WeWork where many individuals share one space through a membership model, similar to joining a gym. P: Within the spa and hospitality industry, how do you think the concept of “sharing economy” can be implemented? G: That’s a great question. Except for being an “obsessive” spa customer, I am not an expert in that business. So, at the risk of being presumptuous, I would suggest that there are three areas to look and explore: 1. real estate, 2. products, 3. specialty equipment. One of the main things to consider in the shift to sharing is that the “crowd” is an asset that was virtually untapped in old business models. This means that people who today don’t work for you and are not your customer may provide your business with enormous value. For example, with respect to real estate, if you own and operate a spa today, a significant amount of your cost is the physical space. If it was possible to “rent” access to spaces when they were unused, would that be of interest? If you could access other spaces that you don’t own or lease during peak times rather than lease for peak all the time, would that significantly change your profits? P: Can you give a case study of companies or organizations successfully implementing “sharing” into their businesses? G: The Waffle House may not seem like a likely candidate for a sharing business, but they recently launched an innovative partnership with a peer-to-peer delivery company called Roadie. Roadie customers as well as its delivery team needed convenient places to pick up and drop off packages. The Waffle House has 1,750 locations around the U.S. Earlier this year, the two companies announced a partnership. This example gives a good sense of how a traditional business and sharing business can easily create a partnership to explore opportunities while driving more value, visibility and sales for its current business. ■ FOR MORE case studies, including links to research that support the idea of a growing sharing economy, click here. FACTORS DRIVING THE SHARING ECONOMY According to Gansky, there are factors that help set the stage for what is happening and why the sharing economy model is rapidly growing. Global urban population “Since 2010 more people reside in cities. Cities are dense with people, movement and experiences. This has made ‘sharing’ physically convenient and compelling.” Technology “Mobile phones with GPS and the Web, sensors and data make finding each other and things inexpensive and easy. This pervasive technology has made ‘sharing’ easy, compelling and often more powerful than owning.” Waste “Waste is expensive. As each of our community members or business partners allows access to his or her excess capacity (e.g., idle cars, bikes, homes, storage space, factories, team members and more), these ‘assets’ become part of an active marketplace.” Climate change “Climate change has caused us as individuals and businesses to reconsider how we consume and the volume of waste that we create.” Community challenges “People are turning to each other to solve some of our communities and the world’s biggest challenges. Peer-to-peer connections have created many marketplaces like Etsy, RelayRides, TransferWise, swapstyle, Prestiamoci and many others,” Gansky says.“We are at the very beginning of our abili