The emergence of the Internet has enabled the development of online platforms, in which user-generated content, sharing and collaboration are promoted (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Due to these technological advances, consumers are able to share goods and services more easily. This led to the development of the sharing economy, which is primarily based on the principle of ‘collaborative consumption’. Collaborative consumption is defined as “the peer-to-peer-based activity of obtaining, giving, or sharing the access to goods and services, coordinated through community-based online services”(Hamari et al., 2015). Some of the most well known collaborative consumption initiatives are: eBay, Uber, Airbnb, and Zipcar.
Recently, the sharing economy has reached the food industry as well. One of the trending concepts is called ‘social dining’, where you can book a home-cooked meal and have it at homes of local hosts. Companies, such as BonAppetour, EatWith, and VizEat have established a meal-sharing platform to provide an alternative way for travellers to discover the world. Their business models rely on a service fee, which is a percentage of the meal fee the guests pay to the host. The meal-sharing platforms resemble the ‘peer-to-peer’ concept and layout of Airbnb. Consumers can search for a particular city and date, and the platform will subsequently show the different hosts (and their locations on a map). Succeeding the meal, guests are asked to indicate their level of satisfaction, and they are able to post a review.
“This is a technology platform that brings people together. Sharing a meal, sharing stories, sharing laughs with new people in someone’s house is deeply personal, authentic, and intimate… it also happens to be the original social network.”
– Simon Rothman, Partner at Greylock, EatWith Board Member
BonAppetour is a meal-sharing platform, with over 500 hosts in 80 cities around the world. They want to create memorable cultural experiences by connecting hosts and guests over authentic home-cooked food (BonAppetour.com, 2016). The founders believe that travelling isn’t just about sightseeing, but it is about the local experience.
How does it work?
Another meal-sharing platform is EatWith, which is based in San Francisco, California. Two friends, who shared the same vision, developed the platform in order for travellers to be able to discover the world in a different way. Currently, the platform is hosting events in more than 150 cities worldwide. Even celebrity chefs are hosting events on EatWith, as it is becoming an interesting and popular food scene (EatWith.com, 2016).
How does it work?
VizEat is a French meal-sharing platform that was established in 2014. In 2016, they partnered with Airbnb, and they are currently hosting events in 65 countries.
How does it work?
Although these meal-sharing platforms offer an insurance program to protect cooks in case of food illness and property damage (CBC News, 2015), privacy and health concerns are still present among consumers. These concerns were also present in the Airbnb case, and we all know how Airbnb has disrupted the Hotel industry. Therefore, it is interesting to discuss whether this new trend of social dining will disrupt the Food/Restaurant industry as well, and to what extent.
Hamari, J., Sjöklint, M., & Ukkonen, A. (2015). The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53(1), 59-68.