Monday, November 20, 2017
ABSTRACT: Peer-to-peer markets, collectively known as the sharing economy, have emerged as alternative suppliers of goods and services traditionally provided by long-established industries. The authors explore the economic impact of the sharing economy on incumbent firms by studying the case of Airbnb, a prominent platform for short-term accommodations. They analyze Airbnb’s entry into the state of Texas and quantify its impact on the Texas hotel industry over the subsequent decade. In Austin, where Airbnb supply is highest, the causal impact on hotel revenue is in the 8%–10% range; moreover, the impact is nonuniform, with lower-priced hotels and hotels that do not cater to business travelers being the most affected. The impact manifests itself primarily through less aggressive hotel room pricing, benefiting all consumers, not just participants in the sharing economy. The price response is especially pronounced during periods of peak demand, such as during the South by Southwest festival, and is due to a differentiating feature of peer-to-peer platforms—enabling instantaneous supply to scale to meet demand.