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How does competition among lodging sharing platforms affect welfare and profits?

Esther Gal‐Or

Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 2021, vol. 30, issue 1, 45-62

Abstract: We investigate the likely effect on prices, consumer surplus, and profits of intensified competition among peer‐to‐peer lodging platforms. We find that intensified competition in the sharing economy may give rise to some surprising results. For instance, intensified competition may allow platforms to charge higher fees from peer suppliers and lead, therefore, to a decline in consumer surplus. Only if the market of professional hoteliers is highly competitive, intensified competition among platforms leads to the traditional outcome that the entry of more platforms leads to lower fees charged from consumers and to enhanced consumer surplus. We also find that platforms may actually earn higher profits when there is intensified competition among professional hoteliers. In addition, while intensified competition among professional hoteliers leads to a decline in the fees that platforms can charge customers, it may actually result in higher lodging prices. We explain these counterintuitive results by the dual role that the lodging price plays in affecting the welfare of individuals active in the sharing economy. While a higher price has an adverse effect on the welfare of demanders of lodging it benefits peer suppliers of lodging because a higher lodging price raises the compensation they receive when offering lodging capacity to a platform.

Date: 2021
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