Would You Pay To Stay In Someone Else's House On A Business Trip?

Top picture: New York Skyline/ Shutterstock

Foyers full of marble glitz, and the long carpeted halls painted that same safe beige.

Business accommodation is often a means to an end; somewhere to sleep when you are not accomplishing what you got on the plane for.

But as the line between work and pleasure is increasingly blurred, more business travellers are swapping hotels for other people’s homes, said Airbnb co-founder and chief technology officer Nathan Blecharczyk.

While accommodation services like Airbnb are most commonly used for holiday travel, Blecharczyk said his site is often used for work-related trips, which makes up “a double digit” chunk of the company’s business.

Airbnb founders, left-to-right: Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia.

“It’s just the right amount of adventure,” Blecharczyk told Business Insider, explaining that staying in someone else’s home changes the way you experience a city.

Airbnb launched a local office in Australia in November last year, and Blecharczyk says about 3000 of a total of 8200 listings in Australia have been made since they launched in Sydney six months ago.

While you may not have time to do much beyond keep your meetings, at least you walked streets you otherwise wouldn’t have experienced, and stayed in a space that is as unique as the person who actually lives there. Or so the thinking goes.

“The place you stay changes how you experience a city. One feels a lot more authentic, a little adventurous.”

Happily admitting it’s not for everyone, Blecharczyk said many business travellers — especially from the tech industry — prefer the idea of having a unique space, “A lot of young professionals like renting an apartment in a city.”

“A lot of people in the tech industry travel exclusively with Airbnb.”

And while the straight-laced executives from conservative industries might turn their noses up at the idea of renting out strangers’ homes, “maybe he’s the guy renting out the villa on the coast of Mexico,” which is an option available on the site.

(It’s worth noting that one of the most sought-after properties on Airbnb is a tree house in California.)

Attracting tech types may not be a coincidence. While the industry is known for its earlier adoption of anything cool, sites such as Airbnb — which allow users to post their house on an online marketplace — can make travel cheap. Perfect for start-ups with limited budgets.

“There’s something for everyone,” Blecharczyk said, explaining that rates start at as little as $50 per night.

Though it’s easy to see why some would back away from the idea slowly. Business travel should be as smooth as possible, and other peoples’ homes leave a lot of doors open for surprises. But Blecharczyk said it’s an issue that’s taken into account, and the company’s website allows and encourages conversation between renter and owner.

“A normal part of the process is going back-and-forth.

“We stress transparency.”

There is also a review process, where users can only throw in their two cents once they have stayed in a property.

“If a house gets negative feedback we can lower its search result [on the Airbnb site], and eventually phase it out of the results,” he said.

There is also the option to have professional photos taken of the property, so potential guests get a better idea of what they’re in for.

“We provide that free to any customer,” with a waiting list of willing participants, which are then matched up with local photographers.

Neighbourhood guides on the site also give an understanding of what a particular suburb is like, with filters that let you search for certain qualities. Perfect for the insurance broker
who wants to get their bohemian on, if only for a night.

“There are always some travellers that want to see the less polished side of a city.”

Globally, the company — which was founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California — has grown rapidly. At the end of 2012 there were around four million guests on the site, Blecharczyk said, with three million of those signing up in that year alone.

Here’s a video on how the site works:

Now read: Silicon Valley’s Top Startup Factory Once Funded A Company Because The Founder Looked Like Mark Zuckerberg

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