It has long since been a platform for the adventurous leisure traveller, but now Airbnb is seeking a new type of clientele – business travellers.

Since launching Airbnb for Business in the summer of 2015, Airbnb has succeeded in providing alternative stays for companies that are not enamoured with their current hotel chain of choice. In fact, Airbnb has now received over 5,000 company sign-ups.

Why are businesses, typically fond of the comfortable conformity of hotel chains, suddenly keen to book corporate accommodation with Airbnb? According to Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Chip Conley:

“Businesses have clearly been longing for a better way to manage their employees’ travel needs and business travellers seem eager for a change from the traditional business travel accommodations”.

So, not only is Airbnb up to 30% cheaper than a hotel for corporate booking, but it is also becoming a preferable environment. Statistics reveal that business travellers often add weekend leisure time to either the start or end of their work trip – extending the average business trip to 6.8 days. The home comforts of having your own kitchen and dining room are not to be underestimated, particularly during stays of this length.

As business travel requires accommodation standards to meet a certain threshold, Airbnb has had to adjust its offerings. Meeting business travel standards means providing fast WiFi, a laptop-friendly workspace, and legal requirements such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Airbnb’s response is the ‘Business Travel Ready’ programme, which formally identifies those properties suitable for business travellers. Not only does this expose high-quality hosts, but it is also someway towards building a sense of security and a duty of care between Airbnb and businesses. This is the same sense of trust built by Airbnb with its regular customers, but on a new level.

According to the programme head Marc McCabe, Airbnb aims to “Redefine the business trip”. By gaining acceptance from huge corporations such as American Express and Google, Airbnb normalises room sharing for those who might not have considered it before – thus also improving booking rates for leisure travel as well as business trips.

The programme, however, is not without its challenges. The typical back-and-forth exchange of messages between host and guest is too time-consuming for businesses, and proves too demanding for hosts. 24-hour access is also a necessity, and without using an Hosting management service, this is impossible for most hosts to offer.

The hurdles have not deterred companies from entrusting Airbnb with their business travellers, however, and the programme is only set to grow.

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