Assessing the meaning of peer-to-peer tourism markets

Is It Sharing Or Economy?

Doing tourism business through digital platforms has become possible for everyone who has some touristic asset to offer, be it a bed, a car or a meal. Digital platforms like Airbnb, Wimdu, 9flats for accommodation or Uber, Cabify or Blablacar for car transport make a peer-to-peer economy possible.

Obviously, the line between sharing one’s own bed or car for social reasons and setting up an outright business are blurred.

Our research interest is to assess the meaning of such new peer-to-peer tourism offers for tourism destinations and tourism markets.

Working With Data: The Airbnb Case

In their marketing communciation, hosting platforms like and many others mainly focus on the sharing aspect of the business: Staying with and meeting locals allows a different, much less “touristic” approach to a destination. On the other side, this relatively new form of economy might cause problems such as irritation for the neighbours, rising prices for living space (which is scarce in many cities anyway) and price pressure for hotels.

Since Tom Slee and Murray Cox published their first analyses, the number of publications and research using scraped data form the Airbnb website has been rising. We use scraped data to analyse the siituation and development for specific destinations of different kinds, be it big cities, small citites or rural areas.

On the 12th TourMIS Users’ Workshop & International Seminar on Consumer Trends & Tourism in September 2016, Dirk Schmücker gave a presentation on “Renting out in the sharing economy – Assessing the meaning of ‘shared accommodation’ for city tourism”. The presentation slides are available on the organizer’s website.

UNWTO Discussion Paper

Currently, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is preparing a discussion paper on the subject. Part of the preparation is a worldwide survey of UNWTO members and affiliates, resulting in a report on the subject. NIT has been asked to support UNWTO in doing the survey and writing the report. Final results are expected to be available in the first half of 2017.

Prohibition Of Misuse Of Lodging Space

Leafing through the newspapers or reading the recent report of Aarhus University for the EU commission makes us think that Misuse of Lodging Space is prohibited only in a number of European Metropolises.

For Germany we can say that among the 20 biggest cities, 8 have installed such regulations. However, among the 8 biggest cities, 6 have already installed regulations and 1 (Frankfurt) is planning to do so (all data as of November 2016). Farther reaching regulations (as e.g. the 2016 San Francisco Residential Unit Conversion Ordinance requiring platforms to make sure that all listings are registered with the city adminstration) are not (yet) in place in Germany.

CityInhabitants (million)RegulationSource
Berlin3.5YesZweckentfremdungsverbots-Gesetz 2014
Hamburg1.8YesWohnraumschutzgesetz 1982
Munich1.5YesWohnraumzweckentfremdungssatzung 2013
Cologne1.1YesWohnraumschutzsatzung 2014
Frankfurt0.7NoIn planning (was in place until 2004)
Stuttgart0.6YesZweckentfremdungsverbotssatzung 2015
Dusseldorf0.6NoWas in place until 2006 (?)
Dortmund0.6YesWohnraumschutzsatzung 2012
Essen0.6NoWas in place until 2001
Bremen0.6NoWas in place until 1998
Duisburg0.5NoWas in place until 2006
Bonn0.3YesZweckentfremdungssatzung 2014
This section was last updated in November 2016

Some Examples

Here are some examples of businesses which fall under the “sharing” or “peer-to-peer” economy in one way or the other. This list is neither complete nor is it a recommendation for one or more of the businesses mentioned – it it just meant to illustrate the range of services typically falling under the term “Sharing economy in tourism”.


Services for accommodation:

Car transport (rideshares):

Services for car transport:

P2P car sharing:


Locations and attractions:

Not enough? Have a look at the Sharing Economy Guide at for more inspiration on the topic.