Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Airbnb Now Specifically Targeting the Business Traveler

I am occasionally surprised by which trends really take off. For example, when fluorescent high-top sneakers and zubaz came back into style, I was shocked and horrified. Or when my Boomer CEO- who frequently describes herself as tech-incompetent and is generally weary of unregulated things- expounded the virtues of her Uber app, I was amazed.

Real, metal keys. Am I right?
However, the large-scale adoption of Airbnb as a go-to for leisure travelers was not a surprise. Many of the Millennials I know- and to some extent Xers, like myself- don’t wish to follow the prescribed course for travel but prefer to find a deeper connection to the places they visit. It made sense to want to explore a destination like a local to really gain a different perspective of a location. The best part though? Keys. Real keys to a house- not cards that lose their magnetism when they get within three feet of your phone. It seems trivial but there is something comforting and reassuring about having a cut metal key to a door. It really drives home the sense of inclusion, the feeling that you are welcomed and belong. Or perhaps that's just me. I digress.

Still, when I blogged about a new trend of people using it for business travel last October, I thought it was interesting but possibly fleeting. Frankly, we tend to think of business travel as cold and impersonal. Get on a plane, check into a hotel, have a meeting, check out, fly back. Rinse and repeat. In addition, many large companies only allow their employees to use predetermined hotel brands to control costs. Some people may even prefer the anonymity of a hotel or be swayed by loyalty programs. In spite of these hindrances, this trend towards using Airbnb and like services for business travel seems to be picking up serious steam.

Airbnb has now launched a new targeted website that gears their service specifically to the needs of the business traveler. Most leisure travel happens over the weekend whereas the majority of business travel occurs during the week. Why not leverage the same comfortable space for both uses? Airbnb has incorporated some stringent guidelines that have to be met first so not all active rentals will apply, keeping business travelers happy by meeting certain expectations. One of the best features of the site is their new "coupon" system. A company just has to set up an account and employees can book their own travel and put it to the company account. Smart move, Airbnb. 

So what do you think? Do you see this as a successful venture for Airbnb? Are you allowed to make your own travel choices for business travel? If so, is this a service you would use?

- Anjee Sorge

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