Everything You Need To Know About Airbnb For Business Travel
Who hasn’t heard of Airbnb? Since its launch back in 2008, the startup has grown from a casual home-sharing service into a hospitality juggernaut that carries a $30 billion valuation. As the service becomes popular among leisure travelers, Airbnb is also looking to tap into the lucrative corporate travel market.
In 2014, Airbnb launched “Airbnb for Business” with the goal to let corporate travelers enjoy the comfort of home even during business trips. Likewise, more business travelers begin to see the worth of using Airbnb for their lodging. After making several significant changes over the years, the company eventually renamed its professional community as “Airbnb for Work”.
In today’s article, we will delve into the pros and cons of using Airbnb for business travel.
The Benefits of Airbnb for business travel
Business trips are not vacations and corporate travelers often end up in the not-so-glamorous destinations. That’s why most of them are looking forward to stay in a comfortable, clean, and affordable property, which is one of the main reasons why they book with Airbnb.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of Airbnb for corporate travels.
Value for money
One of the biggest benefits of staying at Airbnb is the low cost. Airbnb prices tend to be cheaper than most hotels and it’s a great option for SMBs and group travel. They can share the price of renting the entire Airbnb apartment or home while still enjoying their individual privacy in separate bedrooms.
Moreover, since corporate travelers are not paying for any additional amenities such as 24/7 reception, on-demand room service, or in-house gym that normally will be found in hotels, Airbnbs are definitely more budget-friendly.
Cozy spaces and comfort of home
It’s not surprising that one of the main reasons why Airbnb is so popular among corporate travelers is the experience they offer. Instead of the taxing and unadorned hotel rooms, business travelers are returning to a warm place that feels like home, after a day full of hectic schedules.
It’s such an authentic travel experience for corporate travelers who are away from home, which also comes with other perks, such as kitchen to prepare their own meals, hence promoting healthy diet and optimizing their travel budget, or spacey living room to finish some extra work or just relax with colleagues for some team bonding moments.
Wide range of inventory
Today, Airbnb has over 4 million listings in 65,000 cities worldwide. Furthermore, Airbnb properties encompassed a variety of types from homes, apartments, bed-and-breakfasts, bungalows, villas, guesthouses, even lofts.
With so many options to choose from, it’s clear that when it comes to the size of inventory, Airbnb can offer a broad range of choices to match corporate travelers’ diverse travel styles, location preferences, and cater to the different types of business travels, unlike hotels.
Catering to the millennial corporate traveler
There’s no doubt, millennials are the primary force amplifying the use of Airbnb for business travel. Millennial corporate travelers are predicted to make up half of the workforce globally by 2020, easily making them the new breed of corporate travelers.
Most millennials are natural travelers and they value diversity, global perspectives, and new experiences, which also translate to their travel patterns and preferences. These characteristics are in alignment with Airbnb values. So, it only makes sense for travel managers or travel agents to offer the options to book with Airbnb to appeal and fulfill the demands of these millennial travelers.
While Airbnb is gaining traction among the road warrior community, hotels undeniably still dominate the business travel market. Despite all the flexibility and options Airbnb offers, there are some unavoidable risks associated with its use in the company’s travel policy.
Here are some setbacks that you could potentially experience from using Airbnb for business travels.
Duty of care
This is the biggest concern of travel managers when it comes to book with Airbnb for their road warriors. Although the company might have a solid travel policy in place to ensure the safety of the business travelers, but at the end of the day, with Airbnb, they still need to trust a stranger’s place of residence as a safe accommodation for their corporate travelers.
Part of the duty of care procedures should include tracking your travelers’ whereabouts in case of emergencies. The question that is left to be answered is, should a crisis happen in the city where your business travelers are staying at an Airbnb, would it be easier to locate them there than if they were at a partnered hotel?
Corporate rates and loyalty programs
Admittedly, two areas of hotel amenities that Airbnb has yet to match are corporate rates and loyalty programs. Popular hotel chains have cooperated with brands across the travel industry and they are able to offer a variety of discounted rates and upgrades for business travelers.
Furthermore, rewards can be earned and transferred across partnered airlines, car rental companies, even restaurants.
Meanwhile, Airbnb has yet to offer a similar experience. Although in some cases, if you send a message or email directly to the hosts, there’s a chance you might be able to get a special discount, but the odd is still pretty slim. Additionally, an Airbnb rewards system is rumored to be introduced sometime in the future, but it is still unknown how connected their program will be compared to that of hotel brands.
Quality of the property
Another potential setback from Airbnb is the uncertainty of the quality of the place you’re getting. With no fixed check-in and check-out times, amenities, or additional instructions, Airbnb listings often follow their own rules set by the hosts.
Some of the most common liabilities with Airbnbs include coming into a home that is not up to par in terms of cleanliness or a no safety box for travelers carrying expensive items or confidential information with them. There is also additional risk such as Airbnb rooms that do not come with standard safety features such as smoke detectors or fire extinguishers.
From in-house airport shuttles to nearby public transit options, hotels built for business travel are generally better situated to commute and connect their corporate guests with the surrounding area. With Airbnb though, business travelers will have to make sure they are either within walking distance to their meetings, conference and exhibition sites, or that a public transportation is nearby to their property because there’s no transportation service offered in-house.
As such, most likely, business travelers staying in Airbnb will end up using Lyft, Uber or other mobile taxi-apps, which at times could be inconvenient and pricey.
Airbnb Tools for Business Travel
Today, nearly 700,000 companies turn to Airbnb to arrange business trips. As such, Airbnb strives to constantly improve its sub-brand with features and tools that specifically target corporate travelers.
Here are some of our favorite Airbnb tools for business travel!
Airbnb Mobile App
Obviously, if you plan to book with Airbnb, having an Airbnb mobile app installed on your smartphones or tablets is a must. The mobile app gives better flexibility and mobility for corporate travelers to plan their trips and do their bookings anytime, everywhere.
Smartbnb is a popular app that allows hosts to instantly send automatic messages to guests using advanced AI algorithms. For example, if corporate travelers mention “Wi-Fi” in their messages, the app can automatically send the Wi-Fi password to them.
Airbnb’s Work Trip Toggle
This feature promises to improve the search results to the Airbnb platform to allow guests to find properties that are “more relevant” for business travel. Search results will include the entire homes, Airbnb Plus homes that are verified for quality and design, and boutique hotels.
Airbnb Experience will curate appropriate Airbnb listings into a list specifically tailored for teams and business meetings taking place outside global city centers. The intention is to facilitate more creative offsite events on the Airbnb platform as well as to serve a unique team-building exercise.
Airbnb for Work Dashboard
Airbnb for Work Dashboard is a customizable search platform that can account for specific travel policies. Just like business travel software such as Betravelo, it allows companies to provide their travelers with customized search parameters by setting property types, nightly rates, and amenities that fit the company’s travel policy. It also pre-filters the locations and highlights top-rating Airbnb listings near busy business areas, as well as helps travelers to manage their travel expenses.
Airbnb is an easy way to manage corporate hotel stays, allowing corporate travelers to efficiently save travel expenses on accommodation as well as bring colleagues closer through a variety of team building activities.
Its user-friendly platform also offers organizational features to keep everything in one central hub, so corporate travelers can expect to find fast Wi-Fi, self-check-in and check-out, toiletries, and flexible cancellation policies, just like most hotels offer.
Still, it’s admittedly not the best option for huge corporations simply because of the lack of special programs such as corporate discounts and loyalty rewards. But, we believe Airbnb is still a viable and money-saving alternative to hotels, particularly for SMBs, small business teams, or solo travelers.
So, have you used Airbnb for your business trips?