MasterCard sees shar­ing econ­omy op­por­tu­ni­ties for Caribbean tourism

Jamaica Gleaner - - HOSPITALITY JAM -

THE CON­CEPT of the shared econ­omy has opened up many op­por­tu­ni­ties for small busi­ness own­ers and in­di­vid­u­als in the Caribbean, par­tic­u­larly in the ser­vice in­dus­tries of tourism such as lodg­ing, trans­port, tours, and din­ing.

Pre­vi­ously, an in­dus­try may have been con­trolled by just a few fam­i­lies in the Caribbean. Now, many have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate as long as they are will­ing to take ad­van­tage of new tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses.

With the fastest and best epay­ment tech­nol­ogy, MasterCard is at the heart of this tech­nol­ogy to fa­cil­i­tate the “lo­cal glob­al­i­sa­tion” of prod­ucts and ser­vices. At the core of the shared econ­omy is a ‘democra­tised’ idea of sell­ing or pur­chas­ing; the mar­ket­place is more open; and the prod­ucts aren’t nec­es­sar­ily phys­i­cal prod­ucts. A prime ex­am­ple is Uber, which be­came the largest trans­porta­tion mar­ket­place with­out own­ing any cars. By sim­ply con­nect­ing peo­ple with cars with peo­ple who wanted a ride, they ‘democra­tised’ the idea of taxis and trans­porta­tion.

While the Caribbean is the site of some of the world’s best ho­tels, the shared econ­omy is sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupt­ing the way in which tourists se­lect their ac­com­mo­da­tions. Thanks to com­pa­nies such as Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO, which al­low any­one to share their prop­erty, any condo, home, or even bed­room can be con­verted into a ‘ho­tel room’ for visi­tors.

These sites em­power in­di­vid­u­als to max­imise hous­ing stock and earn money on a flex­i­ble sched­ule, all the while pro­vid­ing visi­tors with what some say is a more au­then­tic lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence than ho­tels.

There are also ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Caribbean for ap­ply­ing the shared econ­omy to rental cars. Lo­cals may rent their cars when they are not us­ing them, and visi­tors may par­tic­i­pate in group-rental pro­grammes like Zip­Car. Shar­ing can also be ap­plied to air travel, which would, in turn, dis­rupt the few air­lines that con­trol in­ter­is­land travel. The Caribbean is al­ready par­tic­i­pat­ing in shared jet trans­port. The ma­jor­ity of pri­vate jets ar­riv­ing into SXM or PUJ are flown by Net­jets.

BOAT BUSI­NESS

The shared econ­omy has also been ap­plied to boat rentals, mak­ing it eas­ier for peo­ple to mon­e­tise their dor­mant boats. Mar­ket­places such as Boat­bound and even Airbnb con­nect own­ers, cap­tains, and renters.

Op­por­tu­nity in the area of restaurants and food de­liv­ery is also en­abled by the shared econ­omy. First is in on­line, rec­om­mended via re­view sites like Tripad­vi­sor and through so­cial shar­ing like In­sta­gram. Sec­ond is by cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­nity for pop-up restaurants or by le­git­imis­ing the food trucks that have al­ways been part of Caribbean cui­sine.

Lo­cal chefs and great cooks of the is­lands no longer need a fancy res­tau­rant and can pro­mote their meals via sites like In­sta­gram, Facebook Events, or Meal Shar­ing. This cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for as­pir­ing res­tau­rant own­ers to share their con­cepts be­fore in­cur­ring the sig­nif­i­cant costs of an ac­tual res­tau­rant.

The shared econ­omy al­lows in­di­vid­u­als and small busi­nesses to reach cus­tomers at a much lower cost of start-up than has tra­di­tion­ally been the case.

Seek the best mar­ket for you, in this new Caribbean econ­omy.

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