The online marketplace for international lodging through social media networks has contributed to the rapid spread of globalization between people of different countries. The beginning framework for our modern-day computers, travel, and internet capabilities occurred around the mid-twentieth century. Over the next sixty years, unimaginable advances in computer technology and increased accessibility to the world-wide web on an international scale have created a multitude of travel accommodation options for the avid world travelers. A large part of this increase in international lodging options for world travelers is due to social media networks. People are now able to resourcefully and effectively plan for international travel arrangements using social media networks. Travelers can experience varying cultures among people and local landscapes, leading to a unique experience on a global level. Our world has gotten smaller while our travel options are now endless. Once a traveler arrives at a preferred location, lodging within the area can be as culturally immersive as the traveler desires. In a word, globalization of travel has gone digital (Susan Lund).
Common practices for planning a trip, such as contacting an airline, hotel, or planning a trip through a travel agency have become increasingly obsolete. A quick search on the internet yields numerous websites to search and explore. A recent article in Forbes listed several useful websites for planning a trip (R.L. Adams). Among the ten websites listed, Airbnb.com and HomeAway.com stand out as offering global lodging opportunities on a very authentic cultural level. Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service, enabling people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. HomeAway offers a selection of rental accommodations from cabins to castles to farm houses. In addition to these sites, Couchsurfing.com provides a platform for members to stay as a guest at someone’s home, host travelers, meet other members, or join an event. The common thread of each of these three sites is their platform to connect the individual traveler to a global community opening their doors to them.
The first website mentioned, Airbnb, ranks number one on Forbes’ list. Airbnb was almost unknown in 2008. Now over a decade later it has become synonymous with lodging at any price point enabling people to list or rent short term lodging. As Airbnb website details, the company expands an individual’s travel possibilities and opportunities to over 191 countries. Airbnb promotes that travelers can experience cities as locals more so than as tourists. Airbnb has customers from around the world and believes that individuals will continually become more connected to more cultures, shaping the way that the individual traveler engages with the world.
A second social media network for lodging options is HomeAway. This website is listed as second on Forbes’ recent article of top travel lodging resources. It has been established since 2005 and is making a name for itself by acting as a rental classified having over 1 million listings in 22 languages in 190 countries. HomeAway’s website states its’ mission is to make every vacation rental in the world available to every traveler in the world through their online marketplace. HomeAway offers a wide-ranging selection of vacation homes. Travelers have more room to relax with added privacy while experiencing the world around them.
Having not made Forbes’ list, Couchsurfing definitely stands out, expanding a traveler’s opportunities to experience world cultures up-close and personal. Couchsurfing was founded in 2004 and services over 14 million people in 200,000 cities around the world. Couchsurfing’s website states that the company envisions a world made better by travel and travel made better by connection to foster cultural exchange and mutual respect. Travelers can connect with hosts who offer air mattress, couches, or spare bedrooms as lodging – experiencing the world in a way money cannot buy.
In summary, there is a common thread between these social media networks that is focused on global lodging: they will unquestionably continue to play a role in furthering globalization. An individual’s travel experience will differ greatly depending on which country he or she chooses to visit. Airbnb, HomeAway, and Couchsurfing are three sites that focus on understanding through the share of ideas, culture, and knowledge. Social media networks have the opportunity to connect or disconnect global relations, through the cultivation of a shared global citizenship between people of all cultures.
Susan Lund, James Manyika, and Jacques Bughin, “Globalization is Becoming More About Data and Less about Stuff”, Harvard Business Review, March 14, 2016
R.L. Adams, “Top Travel Websites for Planning Your Next Adventure”, Forbes.com, March 29, 2016