It's happening: Airbnb has officially decided to market to the business travel industry. If you don't know where you stand on unconventional lodging yet, now is a great time to get proactive on your organization's safety and travel policies.
As business travelers ourselves, we totally understand the allure of Airbnb Business. An environment that feels like home, is flexibly located and inspires collaboration would make any road warrior (or team of road warriors!) happy.
But as a travel management company with over twenty years of experience, we also know there are other details to consider, from the overall travel experience to risk mitigation to travel policy compliance.
So how does it all weigh in? We took a look at the pros and perks listed on the Airbnb Business website and put together some additional insight to keep in mind.
Pros: To qualify as an Airbnb Business listing, hosts upgraded specific services and amenities, including WiFi, irons, hangers and lap-top friendly workspaces.
Considerations: Forgot your toothpaste? Need hot coffee like, now? There's nothing quite like being able to call your concierge for a favor or rely on hospitality services. Make sure your travelers know to double check if their Airbnb pick has the amenities that are crucial to their comfort and productivity. If these details aren't readily apparent on the listing, this may require an individual conversation with the host, and a good Airbnb response time is within 24 hours.
Pros: Having a kitchen will save on eating out, and a parking spot will save on parking fees.
Considerations: Knowing you're saving money is great, but be sure your travelers read the fine print. Many hosts charge a cleaning fee or request that the travelers leave the home in the condition they found it in, which might include running the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and figuring out what to do with those groceries. On that note, after a full day of work and travel, we predict most travelers will end up ordering in anyway.
Comfort + Style:
Pros: The individualized style of an Airbnb Business private residence could be very well designed and even inspiring. Who wouldn't love that?
Considerations: The consistency of booking your favorite hotel brand has a sense of comfort in itself- especially with the free perks our luxury travel partners offer our VIP clients, like upgrades, gourmet breakfast, and resort credits. And if you're looking for individuality, boutique hotels are a hotel trend we love and appreciate, like the quirky new Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
Pros: Airbnb Business hosts must have 5 star ratings from at least 60% of their guests.
Considerations: Besides the observation that 40% of ratings can be one star, did you know the guest also gets rated? The reputation of your business traveler and your company is also at stake, up to the discretion of the host. Remember, the host is not representing Airbnb or a hotel chain, so the overall standard for professionalism can be arbitrary and even a little stressful.
Pros: Airbnb's Host Guarantee is designed to cover damage at Airbnb properties during a reservation, so your company won't be liable for certain types of claims.
Considerations: The common downfall of the shared economy structure is that generally the interest is to protect the host, not the guest. If anything goes wrong or the accommodations do not meet your expectations (or worst case scenario, someone gets hurt), your options are extremely limited. This is an area travel management companies excel in- from ensuring traveler safety to being your advocate with hotel negotiation.
Travel Policy & Reporting:
Pros: Airbnb Business makes it relatively easy to track expenses with visibility, and the system allows travel managers or third party travel companies to handle logistics on behalf of the individual business travelers.
Considerations: Unlike an online booking tool with preset boundaries, compliance for Airbnb will be somewhat manual, and with any new service, you'll have to do some research to set the standards that matter most to your company. If you're giving your team the freedom to expense their travel through Airbnb, make sure to have the conversation about what is acceptable, from host rankings to neighborhoods to additional costs and fees.
Travel Cost vs. Travel Experience:
Pros: Best case scenario, Airbnb Business could offer an incredible traveler experience for a price that will please your CFO. Unfortunately, the same traveler could have a wildly different experience on the next business trip, with unexpected surprises throwing off their productivity and budget.
Considerations: No matter what, smart travel management is about finding a balance between travel cost and travel experience. Knowing what hotel brands are in budget and letting your travelers select their favorite brands takes a majority of the guess work out of booking travel.
Have more questions about if you should fit Airbnb Business into your company’s corporate travel policy? Ask us- we love to help talk you through it!