Call for papers: Peer-to-peer service platforms in tourism

Peer-to-peer service platforms in tourism: digital capitalism, new urban tourism, and governance

The 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting in Trondheim, Norway, June 16 – 19, 2019: Sustainable Geography – Geographies of Sustainability

More information about the conference on the conference website.

Session organizers: Salla Jokela, Department of Geosciences and Geography and Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies, University of Helsinki & Paola Minoia, Development Studies and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki

Abstract deadline: December 10, 2018

Contact: salla.jokela@helsinki.fi & paola.minoia@helsinki.fi

During the past decade, Internet-based peer-to-peer platforms (Airbnb, Uber etc.) have enabled a new generation of entrepreneurs in tourism and mobility. Services that were traditionally in the hands of specialized and certified companies, like hotels, restaurants, and taxis, are integrated with, and partly substituted by, (theoretically) non-professional offers. This diffused supply was initially called sharing economy, but it is growing into a new form of capitalist speculation. Sometimes seen as a driver for revitalizing neighborhoods, sometimes as a gentrifier or a disruptive business model, it affects both residents and operators.

Airbnb is the most notable peer-to-peer platform, whose impacts on residential neighborhoods are geographically uneven. Some cities are embracing Airbnb for accommodating demand fluctuations and distributing tourists across the city, whereas others with more unsustainable tourism levels have a critical stance towards home sharing because of its alleged connections to overtourism and distorted housing markets. Similarly, tourists and residents have divergent interpretations of the phenomenon: while some of them praise Airbnb for offering authentic travel experiences at affordable price, others claim that Airbnb is leading to the growth of rental and sale prices, touristification of local neighborhoods, and degradation of the experiences of local residents and tourists alike. Many hotel managers (and also taxi drivers, against Uber), for their part, argue that these new offers are based on unfair competition and may generate risks due to the lack of quality control. Governance of the system is needed, especially to protect residentiality, but peer-to-peer digital platforms make public control rather difficult. Local governments have different understandings of this new urban tourism. Thus, coherent urban planning and policies addressing particular risks and protection needs are not always in place.

The aim of this session is to discuss the geographies of peer-to-peer service platforms in the context of sustainable tourism and residential living in cities. We ask how different forms of digital capitalism in tourism are changing cities and neighborhoods and how these trends are fostered and/or curbed by technological, economic, political, and social factors, including tourists’ travel choices, urban policies and branding efforts. We invite papers that approach this phenomenon from different perspectives. Possible topics and approaches include, but are not limited to: 

  • Theoretical explanations of the phenomena of digitalization of intermediation activities
  • Peer-to-peer accommodation and changing travel patterns
  • Leveraging of local resources for value creation in peer-to-peer accommodation businesses
  • Peer-to-peer platforms and geographies of authenticity
  • Sharing economy vs. new forms of capitalism
  • Airbnb-led urban transformation, tourism gentrification and disruption of the social fabric
  • Comparisons of development paths of tourist cities in the Airbnb era
  • Ethics of internet-enabled peer-to-peer platforms
  • Political responses to govern the sector

Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words to the session convenors Salla Jokela (salla.jokela@helsinki.fi) and Paola Minoia (paola.minoia@helsinki.fi) by December 10, 2018. Authors will be notified about the status of their submission as soon as possible thereafter.