UCB hosts a creative dialogue on the sharing economy

January 2016

Postgraduate students and travel industry experts discussed the opportunities and challenges posed by the so-called sharing economy during a special creative dialogue at University College Birmingham.

The session, the first of its type staged by the University, brought together MA International Tourism Business Administration students, two tourism lecturers and seven corporate travel managers for an informative analysis of the merits of using the services of Uber and Airbnb.

Industry has expressed concerns over issues including safety and security in connection with some sharing economy suppliers and corporate engagement has been tentative. Conversely, it is also felt that established suppliers can learn from the new providers about the changing requirements and outlooks of new millennial customers.

Students, lecturers and industry delegates discussed these issues and others at the creative dialogue at McIntyre House. The session was moderated by Chris Pouney, of Nina & Pinta Consulting, as part of a joint event with the University.

Michelle Callanan, Assistant Dean for Tourism and Aviation, and Sally Ievers, lecturer and senior curriculum leader for tourism, represented UCB’s academic community in the open and frank discussion. The significant number of overseas students participating in the session added a cross-cultural and geographical context to the discussion.

Michelle highlighted how corporate travel managers are under increasing pressure to investigate the merits of the sharing economy, a key “disrupter”in the traditional tourism and hospitality industry.

She said: “The session was devised as an opportunity for industry and academia to debate the merits of using such providers. This direct and focused engagement on themes pertinent to industry provides immediatevalue to both students and our industry visitors. The success of this session has prompted us to continue with creative dialogues in the future.” 

Chris Pouney, who studied at UCB, urged the postgraduate students to play the role of “the leaders of tomorrow and comment as young travellers.” He said the industry representatives would benefit from the students’ fresh academic perspective and the fact many of them were active users of the sharing economy, including eBay and couchsurfing.com.

The creative dialogue industry representatives included: Lauren Gill, Global Category Manager - Travel at Anglo American; Ike Ihenacho, Global Travel Manager, Mondelez International; Rebecca John, Head of Acquisition Sales, Premier Inn; Bart Leonard, Head of Sales, Hailo Cars; Katrina Williams, Head of Travel, Crown Commercial Service; and Jo Lloyd, Partner, Nina & Pinta.