Speaking at the opening session of ILTM Asia in Shanghai, author and futurist Rachel Botsman said consumers are becoming “brand agnostic,” putting their trust in people they don’t even know. She pointed out that Airbnb has a higher valuation than Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, and all other hospitality companies aside from Hilton Worldwide. She said the sharing economy is being built on “peer trust,” citing “a sense of responsibility and respect” between both parties in the transaction that is absent when dealing with brands and faceless corporations that lack personal accountability. She told the audience of luxury travel providers and sellers, “reputation will become a currency,” pointing to the new services, which allow sellers to rate buyers as well as the reverse. The shift from “institutions to individuals” bodes well for retail travel agents, who are seeing a resurgence in demand despite billions of dollars spent annually by the OTAs on both brand and search advertising to woo consumers. Get the full story at Travel Market Report