Two bits of potentially important news from California the birth place of the gig economy and home of much of the world’s original disruptive technologies.
In today news Uber, having gone public earlier this year, has announced it is now cutting back 435 workers in their US world HQ based product and engineering teams, having dismissed 400 from their marketing team in July. The move is being made to try and turn a profit for Uber and its new shareholders, something which they have yet to achieve since their launch there in 2011.
Rather than disrupt and then the winner takes all, Uber is perhaps now suffering from the growth in its own disruptive competitors, who are equally struggling to make profit. It is hard to feel too sorry for any of the gig businesses in such circumstances and almost impossible to predict who, if anyone, will eventually be left standing to take all.
Winning all may also just have got markedly more difficult, following yesterday’s California courts ruling that contract workers must be treated as employees, entitling them to appropriate employment rights and protections. This drives a coach and horses through the gig-based business model of many operations in various sectors, impacting on an estimated 1 m plus workers in California alone. A series of failed attempts to gain similar recognition in other US states is likely to be re-energised by the ruling.
What difference, if any, does Uber’s difficulties and the Californian State ruling on gig employees make in the UK? None directly, but if the business model isn’t working as well as we were perhaps led to believe for a leading world player like Uber and California, the birth place and leader in the gig economy, has now had cause for serious second thoughts about the wider social and economic consequences of the employment model underpinning the gig economy, then surely that should give cause for many more Countries and jurisdictions to stop and reconsider their own relationship with the gig economy?
The gig economy is creating new jobs and is accounting for much of the recent growth in UK employment, but are the business and employment models driving that growth, themselves sustainable and having disrupted the old way of doing business could they themselves collapse?
The reason we of course need to be interested is that gig economy is that it increasing touches on many businesses involved in tourism and many more of those businesses that are involved within the wider visitor economy.
Over the last few weeks I have added a number of articles on the sharing accommodation sector to our sharing economy and OTA’s page. I am conscious that +95% of what is now in our extensive library of articles are largely negative. Trust me when I find positive piece, I do add them.
My particular favourite in the latest batch is the Metro article on the cheapest Airbnb in the UK at £8 a night. I thought it might be “false news” until I checked it out and found it does exist and is on offer still today.
All mod cons; the host even gives you the option of whether she parks her car in front or at the back of the house, nearer the back yard with the cat litter style toilet tent, presumably so you don’t have as far to walk from the blow up mattress across the back seat of the Nissan Juke family hatchback! This is the same yard with a tent in it, that forms part of the host’s 4 ecliptic offerings: the car’s rear seat, a small tent in an equally small back yard, an airbed in the lounge dinner of the host’s home and a caravan in what appears to be another but larger back yard.
One of the best line in the metro article, from the point of view of posing the question OMG, what has the sharing economy brought us to, is:
‘There’s electricity. Even for the tent outside I run a lead from my house”.
Followed by sheer comedy value/sound thinking on the part of the host, by:
“…… is also arranging a clamp to be fixed on one of the Nissan Juke’s wheels to stop people driving off when she hands them the key”.
I appreciate that what is being offered above is offered openly and guests are not being deliberately mislead as such. But I do still have anxieties over what is safe and in this case, what should be permissible? If I slept in my own car outside my own house or lived in a caravan on the drive or in the back yard, I am pretty sure that the authorities would have good reason to question it? Doing the same for commercial gain, however small, is surely a significant step beyond that? I know colleagues have worked tirelessly to try and outlaw poor quality, dangerous traditional accommodation sector provision over several decades. To see the sharing accommodation platforms opening up a new route to market for questionable provision is more than a little worrying, or at least that is what I feel. about it. I’d welcome colleagues’ views on the specifics of extremely basic provision; is it OK to offer tourist accommodation in my garden shed if the buyer is forewarned it’s a shed? And if it is not, should the sharing platforms be facilitating its promotion?
See the latest articles at: https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/
You may be pleased to hear that efforts to fund a QC opinion around various sharing accommodation issues, that’s being led by colleagues in the SW and supported by British Destinations and many others is progressing well.
I have just realised that I have failed to circulate the news that Great Yarmouth’s, Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area second term ballot was successfully approved in early August on 53.4% of the vote cast and 71.4% of the total aggregate value, A total of 262 or 39% of the eligible ballot papers were cast.
This is great news for the Greater Yarmouth area, for the destination for local tourism and I would suggest for Destination BID process, as this now means that all the first tranche of the tourism focused, Destination BIDs adopted in 2013 – 2014 have been successfully reappointed. Hopefully this will help encourage businesses in other D BIDs to maintain their faith and reappoint when their turn to consider second terms comes round.
Congratulations to all concerned at Great Yarmouth.
For more detail on Tourism and, as we prefer to call them, Destination BIDS see: https://britishdestinations.net/business-improvement-districts-and-tourism/
Details of the VisitBritain Sector Deal Conference, 10 am for 10.30 am to 5 pm, Birmingham Hilton Metropole, B40 1PP may not have reached you all. If you wish to attend then respond to VB by 5 Sep RSVP . Original invitation detail is reproduced below or view it online at:
Extract of original reads:
Following the Government’s announcement of a Tourism Sector Deal in June, I am delighted to invite you to a conference to find out more about the deal, how it will be implemented, and how you can get involved.
Key speakers from the industry and government will be discussing the major themes of the Tourism Sector deal, including: the tourism data hub, accessibility, business visits and events and tourism zones. The sessions will include a mixture of panel discussions, presentations and opportunities for questions from the audience.
We will also be running a skills session and a Sector Deal Q&A.
Spaces are limited so please RSVP by Thursday 5 September.
Refreshments and lunch are included, and a full agenda will be shared closer to the event.
I look forward to welcoming you to the conference.
Steve Ridgway CBE, Chairman,
British Tourist Authority
Wednesday 18 September 2019
Hilton Birmingham Metropole
Pendigo Way, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1PP
Event starts: 10.30
Event close: 17.00
The recently published provisional International Passenger Survey (IPS) figures for April and May show a decline of 8% and 6% by volume and 14% and 1% by value respectively on the same periods in 2018, The 2018 figures where themselves down on the equivalent period in 2017, a record year. The nature of the survey and the range of influences on international tourism make it unwise to draw any firm conclusions from results for any single month. However, the more robust indicator of the cumulative, year to date figures up to and including May also shows a 3% decline in volume and 6% in value against 2018 which suggests that international inbound tourism to the UK is in decline and has been since the end of 2017.
Outbound UK resident volume was down 4% in April and static for May but spend was up 11% and then down 3%. The ONS release includes multiple caveats relating to all of what are, provisional figures. They also point out that they are working to correct an identified imbalances (errors?) which, once corrected, will be retrospectively applied to previous year’s data. The imbalance is said to relate only to tourism and not to migration and other key Government statistics derived from IPS.
We don’t usually drawer your attention to the ONS monthly results updates, that are issued around a quarter in arrears. However, on this occasion the downturn in UK inbound tourism figures is being picked up in the national press as an issue, Brexit or otherwise related Today’s Times coverage can be accessed at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/wish-you-were-here-visitor-numbers-to-britain-fall-jgtz9gn2c
The ONS release that prompted the coverage is at:
The following direct quote from the update may be useful when arguing the case for why it is not only important to attract overseas visitors but also to work tirelessly to retain even more of the domestic market than we already do:
“UK residents consistently make more visits abroad than foreign residents make to the UK. The total amount spent by UK residents during visits abroad is also higher than the total spent by foreign residents visiting the UK. The numbers of visits and the amounts spent vary through the year, with more in the summer. This is the case both for UK residents and overseas residents. However, UK residents show a much sharper peak both in visits and expenditure during the month of August, which is traditionally the only complete month of the UK school summer holidays”.
For those around long enough to remember this is what Victor Middleton coined “the Leaky bucket syndrome”. One method of keeping a leaking bucket topped up is to run around pouring in more water (visitor) . The other, and they are not mutually exclusive, is to take action to fix some of the leaks (encourage more residents to holiday at home). Since Victor first used the analogy of a leaking bucket the policy direction has wavered towards and away from supporting the domestic market. Currently, in England at least, topping up the bucket appears to be the Westminster Governments’ only real tourism priority.
I was doing some initial work on the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into “sustainable tourism, the impacts of tourism and travel on the environment and how these can be reduced”, when I noticed that the closing date for written submissions of 19 September, that I original gave out, was wrong. The correct date is 13 September 2019.
The wording of the call for evidence tends to suggests that the committees interests lean more towards UK outbound and international inbound tourism. (informing the Government’s forthcoming aviation policy is specifically referenced). There is very limited reference to domestic tourism, despite it accounting for c 80% by value and volume of tourism activity within the UK itself and, therefore, having significant environmental impacts that will need to be carefully managed if the sector is to continue to flourish and contribute to reducing the totality of the UK’s tourism environmental impact and carbon footprint.
The introductory notes also highlight the importance of good tourism management in delivering the economic and social benefits of tourism, while minimising the environmental and other negative impact that can accompany mass tourism. Destination management and the increasing issues of undertaking it are of course dear to all our member’s hearts.
Combined these two openings represent an opportunity to raise the role of a successful domestic tourism industry in reducing the UK’s holistic tourism related environmental impact worldwide. It also allows us to articulate the need for strong well supported destination management in the UK to ensure the UK, among other things, achieves the ambitious, sustainable, zero carbon targets that are being considered and which are likely to be set for the industry in the next few years.
Some destination may wish to highlight to the Committee what they are already doing in this respect, or use the inquiry as vehicle to raise awareness around other key concerns. For example, the importance of primarily domestic focused popular UK destinations and the pressures around funding and maintaining appropriate levels of management in local point or larger area destinations. I will look to try to do the same in the British Destinations’ response.
The consultation detail has now moved down to the third item in the “Consultations” drop-down menu, or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/select-committee-inquiry-into-sustainable-tourism-closing-19-september-2019/
DCMS have launched a Sector Deal related broadband competition, with the intent of awarding £250k in average grants of c £30k (+ or — as necessary) to venue of 400 plus seats, who have hosted at least one international conference in the last calendar year (from 15 August 19) and are bidding to host or are hosting at least one other international event in the coming calendar year (defined as at least 30% international delegates, + 50% preferred) and who wish to up grade to 1 Gbps full fibre broadband connections.
There are restriction on EU grant received in previous years. Although not a prerequisite preference will be given to projects will to match funding up to 50%. The bidding document also discusses the option for local business and residents to access the full fibre network, and claim up to £2,500 and £500 respectively against installation costs of a gigabit capable connection via mechanism of the gigabit voucher scheme; again preference goes to those demonstrating the capacity and a preparedness to stimulate local demand to participate .
I am assuming, because its DCMS scheme it is England only (?) but I am aware that negotiations about the Sector Deal which is potentially a UK wide concept continue. If it is open to other Home Nations I will let you know.
Clearly any destination with its own public, private or public/private sector venue or venues may want to look at this interesting new funding opportunity. Bids close 27 September 2019.
More precis detail at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/broadband-competition-for-event-venues
The bidding form is at:
https://forms.gle/QJgf1zSavAxeucYx9 note apparently it has to be completed in a single session.