Posted: September 4, 2015

Airbnb business travel branch continuing to grow
Many companies are beginning to open up to using Airbnb listings for business travel.

The emergence of sharing services within the travel industry has been a relatively grey area for companies when it comes to sending out employees for work-related trips. One company in particular that businesses tend to be hesitant about implementing into business travel is Airbnb, a website where people rent out their homes or apartments for travelers. While concerns of safety and overall satisfaction have been the primary reasons companies shy away from the lodging sharing site, recent reports indicate that more organizations are starting to open up to the idea of utilizing Airbnb for business travel.

Airbnb expands business travel program

Last year, Airbnb made announcements that it was starting to put more emphasis on its emerging business travel branch, in hopes of attracting more employees to use the service instead of traditional hotels or resorts. After the announcement, Airbnb's head of global hospitality Chip Conley made a statement regarding why the company could be so appealing to businesses sending employees on location.

"We know Airbnb isn't for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel," Conley said in a press release. "Nearly 10 percent of Airbnb's customers travel for business already and we've heard from customers that this type of offering is high on their wish list. Working with Concur, we've now made it even easier for people to make the most of their business travel."

"More than 1,000 companies have signed up for Airbnb's business travel program."

Recently, reported that more than 1,000 companies from all around the world have been enrolled in the Airbnb business travel program, a number that indicates a growth of 700 percent since the program launched in July 2014. The report also stated that Airbnb received enrollments from 500 companies within the first 24 hours of the launch back in 2014, and hopes to continue its growth for 2016.

Pros and cons

Airbnb is trying to appeal to companies and employees who prefer a setting that's more reminiscent of their own homes during their stay in a different city. The service also insists that due to the growing amount of members making their residences available to rent, there are more options for business travelers in terms of location. As for booking, Airbnb allows users to pick and choose how much they're willing to spend on a listing per night, and there are plenty of pictures of the space available to rent, so employees can get a better hang of the layout prior their arrival.

However, not everyone is convinced that Airbnb is the right service for business travelers. Marco Aguilar, owner of the travel industry marketing and public relations agency Travel Pie, is wary when it comes to recommending Airbnb to workers traveling on business.

"Airbnb is not a good fit for a business traveler, in my opinion," Aguilar said in an interview with Airport Hotel Guide. "That is where the image comes into play, and I don't think it would look very professional. The other aspect of it is comfort. In a hotel you can order food in, get your bed made every day and your towels changed. If you are going through Airbnb, you have to provide yourself with everything."

Time will tell whether Airbnb is more of a fad or a way of the future for business travel lodging, but the service is continuing to make companies contemplate whether it's an opportunity worth noting.

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