It is not a revolution, as some commentators would have the industry believe. But 10% of travellers using a “shared accommodation”-type product is hugely significant.

The number comes from a major study released this week by Phocuswright, which found that one in ten online travellers in the UK and US had rented a shared space in a private home or apartment during 2014.

Perhaps surprisingly, Americans and Brits lag behind many of their counterparts elsewhere around the world.

In fact, the figure actually jumps to 18% for travellers in China and Brazil, with Russia (17%), Australia and Germany (13%) and France (11%) also ahead.

Phocuswright says the “shared space” element of the so-called new breed of accommodation hitting the industry is “often overlooked” at the expense of the attention given to properties rented out in their entirety (20% of travellers are renting those).

Still, some of the findings in the report (produced with Homestay) are useful context behind the general trend where many travellers are moving from traditional accommodation such as hotels to the new private economy in hospitality.

The study (which included a survey with 8,000 travellers and interviews with companies in the sector) found that price drives a lot of the decision-making in the booking process, with a correlation also found between the amount spent on the accommodation and that used for transportation.

Another factor around choice of property was the notion of travellers apparently wanting a “culturally immersive experience”, where they meet and stay with locals and have a supposedly closer encounter with the social fabric of a destination.

The length of stay at a hosted or shared property is significantly longer than the average leisure trip, with academic trips featuring strongly and visits from overseas travellers more likely.

Interestingly the demographic details are noteworthy for possibly breaking the perception that shared accommodation is for the youngsters of the travelling populace.

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The report also found that whilst the concept of shared accommodation is popular with solo travellers, others are beginning to try things out.

Nearly 40% of trips taken in shared spaces were for parters or two adults travelling together, with one in five trips included families with children.

There must be a “but” in all this somewhere?

Yes, arguably a rather important one.

Phocuswright says in a summary:

“The presence of a host during the guest’s stay is a central distinguishing characteristic between shared space rentals and other forms of accommodation.

“However, there are no clear standards across industry websites – or even within many online marketplaces – as to what guests can expect from the hosts.”

How this key element is resolved (if it needs to be) appears to be at the centre of the potential for the shared accommodation marketplace to thrive as a significant player in travel accommodation.

The host-guest dynamic is the “lynchpin to success”, Phocuswright claims, with any brand looking to capture some of the opportunity needing to “establish a digital framework for facilitating both the trust and level of engagement that both hosts and guests want”.

It concludes:

“Companies seeking to capitalize on this growing segment of accommodation must offer more than pretty pictures and great prices.

“They must understand the expectations of both hosts and guests, and establish a digital framework for facilitating and fostering the kind of engagement between shared space hosts and this very distinct set of travelers who seek out hosted accommodations.”

Some other interesting charts from the report:

Average total spend for all last trips and shared space trips

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Sources of information used for shopping for shared space stays (Australia, Brazil, Russia and China)

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Sources of information used for shopping for shared space stays (US, UK, France and Germany)

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NB: Shared accommodation image via Shutterstock.

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It is not a revolution, as some commentators would have the industry believe. But 10% of travellers using a “shared accommodation”-type product is hugely significant. The number comes from a major study released this week by Phocuswright, which found that one in ten online travellers in the UK and US had rented...