Airbnb wants corporate travel to look like staying in someone’s house, not a hotel.
With business travel spending projected to rise to $US302.7 billion in 2015, Airbnb clearly sees profit to be made by carving out a chunk for itself.
Business travellers already make up 10 per cent of the company’s rentals, according to Airbnb’s business development lead Marc McCabe.
The rental site’s first step towards boosting that number is a new dashboard to make it easier for companies to start using the service. Airbnb users are invited to join their employer’s group, and the company then has ways to manage bookings for the entire company, including exporting financial data.
Before the new program, employers used a coupon system, like a corporate account code, and were issued reports at the end of the month, McCabe said.
It’s a much-need overhaul on the company side, but the question remains if business travellers will want what Airbnb has to offer.
Staying in an Airbnb isn’t quite as easy as walking up to a hotel. Often you have to coordinate keys and communicate with hosts ahead of time to let them know when you’re coming.
Some business travellers who are used to the instant check-in and front desk help when they arrive may be turned off going through Airbnb’s procedures. McCabe said it’s the trade-offs that make it worth the little bit of extra effort.
“There are a lot of different kinds of business travellers out there, a lot of whom are excited to use Airbnbs because it presents them an exciting option that lets them get to know the places they are visiting.,” McCabe said. “Sometimes it allows them to have more space or access amenities that you typically have in a home, so it makes some trips a lot more comfortable, especially extended trips or if you’re travelling with colleagues.”
About 15 per cent of Airbnb’s business travellers have stayed for longer than 10 days, McCabe said, and the company doesn’t see many one night-only trips.
This doesn’t mean Airbnb will replace the corporate hotel trip altogether — there’s no loyalty program yet, or any special indication on listings that it makes it easy to identify which one is best suited for corporate types. McCabe said he sees Airbnb as a “complimentary option” to the normal hotel stay, one that’s great for people who want the perks and conveniences of an Airbnb over living out of a suitcase in a hotel room.
“This is really just the start,” McCabe said.