Airbnb is seeing increasing success with business travellers says the group’s global head of business travel, David Holyoke.
Holyoke said that 10 per cent of trips on Airbnb are now for work and in 2016, the number of business trips tripled.
“We now have a milestone passed of 250,000 companies now using Airbnb for business travel and nearly 18,000 new companies are signing each week.”
Mr Holyoke also said that because of the lines between leisure and business blurring, 50 percent of business trips on AirBnB included a Saturday night.
The company has had many challenges to overcome, some of which Holyoke admits are still in front of it. Like Uber, the company faces pushback from regulatory authorities who are examining everything from collection of tourist taxes to zoning regulations. In addition business travellers, and often the travel managers or companies responsible for booking their accommodation, are wary of the lack of safety around unlicensed properties.
Recognising these concerns Airbnb has created a “business travel ready” filter -ready to launch on Monday, May 1, 2017 – accommodation with basic business travel needs provided such as free wifi, laptop-friendly workspaces and self check-in. There is also a new search and booking filter so that business travellers can filter search results to only show business travel ready listings. The filter also allows search results to highlight listings with self check-in — where guests can access listings using a key lockbox, smartlock, keypad, or doorman any time after the designated check-in time on their arrival date.
Addressing the need for accurate management information on the employer side, Airbnb launched a third-party booking tool so both the employee who is managing travel and the employee who is taking the trip can book, make changes to the reservation, and message the Airbnb host with questions about the listing or neighbourhood.
There are also business-friendly receipts to help with the expense claim process and Airbnb has started data integration with travel management companies such as Carlson and American Express Global Business Travel.
Mr Holyoke said that companies typically saw savings of around 25 to 30 per cent when booking through Airbnb, and with hotel prices “continuing to creep up between four and six per cent, and compliance in managed travel programmes for accommodation being around 60 per cent, there was a strong argument for travel buyers “to bring Airbnb into the managed travel programme in a responsible way that works for companies.”