Inside Airbnb’s Business Travel Strategy

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Munich is one of the many cities in which Airbnb offers lodging

Munich is one of the many cities in which Airbnb offers lodging

McCabe gets enthusiastic about the possibilities. “We want to give people the feeling that they live in Paris for a week,” he says excitedly.

From a marketing and sales perspective, it looks like “a really phenomenal opportunity” for Airbnb, he noted, and, as a result, the company now uses the slogan, “Travel for work. Feel at home” to reinforce the message.

In order to sell to the enterprise market, however, it’s necessary to address what larger corporations require in selecting accommodations. Larger companies need support on a different level, which in part a recently released dashboard will bring into the picture. It supports visibility into employee itineraries, centralized billing, and reporting.

Most corporate travel policies, however, don’t address Airbnb-like accommodations. Corporate travel managers wrestle with safety and security, risk management, and duty of care issues on a daily basis. There are some areas in which an Airbnb property may fall short, including adequate emergency lighting, sufficient locks on windows and doors, a doorman and/or security personnel in a multi-unit dwelling, and crime in the surrounding neighborhood.

Airbnb issues free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as free first aid kits to hosts. The Airbnb website lets travelers to see whether there’s a doorman, an elevator, and it facilitates asking the host about security as well.

On the other hand, staying at a local house or apartment will mitigate some issues including standing out too much from the local population and being a target by virtue of staying in a hotel that locals would not frequent.

McCabe recommends corporate travel managers familiarize themselves with what Airbnb can provide. While it’s clearly not the same as what the typical chain hotel where a business traveler would stay would provide, for some companies, the pluses would outweigh the minuses.

Not every host is appropriate for the business traveler, but Airbnb’s reviews and ratings should allow many corporate travel managers find a good fit for their travelers.

FBT plans to explore Airbnb accommodations as well and you’ll read about that in an upcoming issue.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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