Peer-to-peer dining on the menu in Europe

LONDON – The success of peer-to-peer players such as Airbnb is driving a number of start-ups in Europe which give visitors the chance to eat local food with local people, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, releasedat World Travel Market.

Sites such as EatWith and Bookalokal are pairing travellers with home cooks at their holiday destination.Visitors can then rate and review their hosts in terms of food quality, venue and cleanliness.

Both start-ups have slightly different models that reflect the potential of the sector, the report reveals. EatWith focuses on hosted meals in a home while Bookalokal also includes cooking lessons and guided tours around a city’s foodie hotspots.

EatWith started in 2013 with hosts in Spain and Israel and now covers more than 20 cities. Bookalokal has seen rapid expansion from its creation in Brussels in 2012 to a further 20 countries worldwide by 2014.

Online travel agents are taking a greater interest in the dining reservations sector, as shown by Priceline Inc’s purchase of OpenTable and TripAdvisor’s deal to buy La Fourchette.

The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 reveals that in 2013, international and domestic tourists spent more than US$37 billion on food in France, with Italy next, netting more than US$25 billion. Germany, Sweden and Spain complete the top five food destinations.

The report suggests that “expansion in Europe is expected, particularly in Eastern Europe, where the sharing economy is still young and there is a strong gastronomical heritage to be built upon.”

The peer-to-peer trend is tipped to become one of the main driving forces in the travel industry over the next five years, along with destination services, personalisation, and mobile bookings.

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “When travelling and on holiday we all like to think that our experience is authentic to the destination. How much more real can you get than by eating local food cooked by a local in their own home, or being taken to a restaurant which isn’t featured in the guide books?”

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “ Airbnb has taken the private rentals market by storm, paving the way for other sharing brands to follow. The extension of this concept to dining is part of a wider trend towards a more authentic visitor experience.”