Is Air BnB Able To Target More Business Travelers With New Marketing & Search Tool?

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AirBnB is planning to target business travelers with a new search option starting next week that designates listings as Business Travel Ready (BTR) if an apartment fulfills certain minimum standards.

AirBnb traditionally has mostly leisure travelers that account for roughly 90% of it’s bookings but the company is now anxious to breach that ceiling and to get more business travel as well.

Though controversial, the sharing economy has certainly been extremely popular with the customers who profit from more options in every part of planning their travel, be it transportation or accommodation through sites such as AirBnB.

Bloomberg (access here) now had an interesting article about the companies new target: Business Travelers!

Airbnb plans to introduce a search tool designed for business travelers. The feature will allow professionals to filter homes and apartments that Airbnb has deemed Business Travel Ready. To qualify for a BTR listing, as the company calls it, the dwelling must have a desk, Wi-Fi, self-check-in through a doorman or digital lock and various amenities you’d expect at a hotel, like free shampoo, a hairdryer and iron.

According to Airbnb, 90 percent of its customers are vacationers. The company attempted to capitalize on its core business last year by adding tourism services, such as hat-making tutorials in London and off-road motorcycle excursions in Los Angeles. But Airbnb sees expense accounts as a big opportunity. U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach $296 billion by the end of this year and climb 5.2 percent next year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, a trade group.

There were 250 companies signed up with Airbnb to book and manage business travel in 2015. Last year, the number of people using the site for business purposes tripled and is expected to quadruple this year, said David Holyoke, the head of Airbnb’s business travel division. There are now more than 250,000 companies using it, including Alphabet Inc., Domino’s Pizza Inc. and Morgan Stanley.

Airbnb is hoping to benefit from younger professionals’ penchant for mixing business with leisure. It said half of people using Airbnb for business travel prolong their reservations through Saturday night. “As millennials advance in the workforce, we’re seeing incredible growth,” said Holyoke. “These young business people want to feel at home on the road.” …

Of course the honeypot with business travelers who can expense even expensive stays is tempting for a company such as AirBnB and for all the right reasons. Having just 10% of their customers booking for business with such a huge market shows the tremendous upward potential.

There are downsides though. Downside number one is that the higher the demand for units listed on AirBnB is going to be, the less units will be available for rent at the local neighborhoods. Especially those where a listing pulls several hundred dollars a night. This gentrification process is bad as it forces current residents out should they live under a flexible lease agreement and avoids new apartments being vacated by renters and rather using it for daily or long term rentals.

Being LoyaltyLobby we also have to focus on the downsides for the traveler: No Loyalty Points apart from credit card spend related awards. You’re staying at a private residence where you don’t need to have status customer pampering such as in a regular business hotel – and that’s totally fine. It only starts to become a problem when your stay strategy doesn’t exclusively focus on staying with AirBnB because you will likely find yourself being short a few nights (or more) for your Elite status. Is it worth it? That pretty much depends on someones travel habits and wallet.

Conclusion

Foregoing hotel points on business travel can make a big dent for some road warriors and even occasional business travelers. Many save up their points to pay for their annual family vacation somewhere nice. This can mean thousands in savings which of course always has to be seen relative to how much someone is earning but in the end, money is money.

There are definite upsides in using an AirBnB or otherwise secured apartment for a long stay. The casual ‘at home’ atmosphere helps you relax and feel at ease. I never have that at a hotel. Even the luxury hotels are in the end busy hubs with people buzzing around you all the time. I can see why someone would love to stay at an apartment rather than a hotel for a few weeks at a time. For brief stays, the check-in process and key handover at the end is too much hassle for me. Especially since there is a deposit and also a cleaning fee involved in most cases.

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