Inside Airbnb’s Business Travel Strategy

By Paul Riegler on 13 October 2015
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Airbnb is a.) a global community that connects travelers and hosts; b.) a great way to live like a local when visiting a foreign city; c.) a good way to find inexpensive places to stay when traveling; or d.) a tool that allows corporate meeting and travel managers to find unique locations for off-site meetings as well as for alternative accommodations for the business traveler.

The answer, at least according to Marc McCabe, who heads up business travel at Airbnb, is “all of the above.”

Frequent Business Traveler sat down with McCabe to take a look at the company’s perspective on the business travel market. Here’s what he had to say.

In late 2013, Airbnb began to conduct surveys and perform analyses and uncovered that roughly 10% of its customer base was comprised of business travelers. As he put it, “When a tech company sees that 10% of its users are doing something, it’s a good reason to dig deeper.”

As a result of that digging, in July 2014, the company launched a business travel program and, one year later, more than 250 companies have come on board, a mix of mostly smaller but some large companies including Google and TBWA\Chiat\Day.

McCabe said “it’s all about belonging” and feels that business trips “might align better with our core message than anything else.”

Business travelers, he notes, “are away from home” on trips “they have to take.” He believes that Airbnb properties and hosts “could do a good job to support that traveler.”

The feedback the company is seeing from its business-travel contingent is promising. McCabe says that feedback in surveys indicates that Airbnb “gives me freedom to feel at home” and “gives me a bit more space.” Corporate customers spoke of finding unique locations for off-site meetings and events that they otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

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