A new report from Phocuswright says Airbnb is on track to become the world’s fourth-largest online travel company this year, behind only Expedia Inc., Priceline Group and China-based Ctrip in annual gross bookings.

While the scale may – or may not – surprise some, it underscores what we all already know: the sharing economy is here to stay.

Airbnb’s disruptive presence is understandably troubling to the hotel industry, but it is just one more example of the many unexpected – and sometimes daunting – changes the Internet has wrought for the travel industry over the last few decades.

If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned, though, it is that rather than fight the inevitable, we need to be on the lookout for maximizing opportunities that come with change.

Many in the hospitality industry are already doing that. Choice Hotels, for instance, earlier this year launched a vacation rentals unit that lets consumers rent from partnering vacation-rental management companies while still earning points under its loyalty program.

Also this year, AccorHotels acquired onefinestay, a London-based service that rents out upscale homes in London, New York, Paris and Rome. With the acquisition, the companies said they intend to expand onefinestay’s inventory in 40 more cities over the next five years.

Many other hotel companies have long offered serviced apartments and other vacation and business rentals. And some hotel companies are branching out to manage and maintain private rentals, to help ensure hotel-quality standards and amenities.

As the world’s largest hospitality distribution company, we too are developing new partnerships and solutions with the goal of helping players on all sides navigate the booming alternative lodging sector.

In that vein, today we announced a new partnership with RentalsCombined.net, an inventive platform developed to help travel agents be more competitive in this space.

Based in London, RentalsCombined.net has an inventory of more than 600,000 professionally managed properties worldwide accessed by a travel agent network of more than 100,000 professional advisors around the globe.

Nico Nicholas, CEO of RentalsCombined.net, says partnering with DHISCO is a logical next step for his company.

It’s also a logical step for us here at DHISCO, where one of our top priorities is to meet the continually evolving demands of both travel sellers and buyers around the globe.

Alternative lodging is an area where we believe we can help both traditional hotel partners and new suppliers connect and tap into new markets.

We look forward to helping RentalsCombined.net expand its reach while offering both new and established hospitality suppliers companies a new platform for commerce.

– Toni Portmann