"The world's largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. The world's most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. And the world's largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property. Something big is going on"
These seemingly obvious observations made by Tom Goodwin, an executive at the French media group Havas a few weeks ago has been re-tweeted, re-quoted and re-blogged over and over again. Why?Because it's pointing out the pink elephant that entered the room a few years ago.
The way we interact with each other on a personal level changed a decade or so ago, with the advent of My Space, Twitter and Facebook. We already knew that. The online sharing of our lives is now a socially expected and acceptable thing. But what else has changed since then?
The way in which we travel and share our lives, with the use of popular apps such as Uber and Airbnb. I no longer know anyone that willingly jumps in a taxi -- because Uber is cheaper, it's a cute and convenient little icon on your phone, AND it's more personable. Admit it, how many of us have had chats and good, solid banter with our Uber drivers yet somehow always comfortably ignore taxi drivers? It's because they are relatable. They are us. Just local people connecting with each other.
Last weekend I had a driver tell me he is in the process of writing his own book -- 'Confessions of an Uber driver'. I laughed and said it was only a matter of time before something like that appeared and asked him why he thinks it is we don't see 'Confessionals of a cab driver' on the bookshelves already (there might be such a book, but I have never seen it) and he replied: "That's simple. A Taxi driver is an unknown person providing a service, an Uber driver is one of us giving you a lift for a shared mutual benefit."
The same concept applies to Airbnb hosts. Why are more and more people choosing to book their accomodation this way? It's often more cost effective, but I know that's not the only reason.
It's a way of connecting. Sharing. Travelling differently and being able to experience a week through a locals eyes, staying in their home. These apps being available just a swipe away on your phone, connecting us all 24/7, has forever changed the way people will travel and experience life. It's a big thing.
People are getting much more involved in the planning of their travels these days and like to feel they are not only interested in the best price, but the most authentic experience. I can't blame them. I am one of these people who has a solid Airbnb rating, a gold membership to booking.com and who uses Uber regularly.
We 'check in' to places on Facebook to let everyone know where we are, whether it's a trendy bar on a Friday night or the airport of another country. We Instagram and filter our best photos then hashtag places and tag people in them. We send videos on snapchat to share a laugh with friends. We post and share status updates on LinkedIn to further our careers and connect. This is all self-created material just using a popular interface to share it.
If you are going to invent an app, just make sure it's something that can be universally related to and somehow a shared experience. Because life is better shared. We know this already. It's just now all online.
May as well make some money out of it.