Airbnb and Business Travel - 5 Tips To Doing It Right

Recent data shows that more and more travelers who work for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are finding a place to stay on business trips at Airbnb. Here’s what’s happening, why it works, and some tips to make the most out of your stay during business travel.

Still strong growth

While growth in demand is leveling off somewhat, a new Concur survey shows it’s still very strong. The number of business travelers expensing Airbnb accommodations grew 44% year over year in Q2 2016. The number of organizations using Airbnb increased by 32% and overall spend increased by 42% year over year from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016. The average Airbnb expense was $242, but that varied among major US cities.

The small business link: The survey shows small and midsized businesses (up to 1,000 employees) are now among the fastest adopters of Airbnb for business – they increased spending on Airbnb 38% in Q2 2016 compared to Q2 2015.

Why are business travelers selecting Airbnb?

In many cases, for the same reasons leisure travelers do – cost, space and amenities. A recent article in The Week cited a diverse list of amenities, for example, a kitchen, or a parking place (which can save a lot in a major city.) Often, when you rent an Airbnb property, you’re getting an entire apartment, condo or home. In fact, Quartz.com recently reported on a hotel industry survey that showed renting an entire home on Airbnb can cost about the same as a single hotel room – Quartz says: “On average, the daily rate for an Airbnb rental was $160.47 compared to 163.90 for a hotel room.” In some large cities (Chicago, New Orleans) the survey found Airbnb properties were more expensive than hotel rooms, but in others (New York, San Francisco, Honolulu) they were sharply less.

5 tips

There are dozens of places online and in print where you can find tips to succeed as an Airbnb guest, but here are some we’ve found that focus on the business traveler:

  • Airbnb has a whole section on their website for listings they’ve designated as “business travel ready,” with specific requirements aimed at satisfying the business traveler. These requirements include: a majority of 5 star reviews; hosts who respond to 90% of booking requests within 24 hours; a commitment not to cancel confirmed reservations within 7 days of the check-in date; 24 hour check-in; The room type is the entire home or apartment; and the space has business amenities like Wi-Fi. (More on Wi-Fi in a moment)
  • Blend work and exploration: The Week says of Airbnb: “The rewards can be great — not so much because you will save money … but because the place you end up staying may be cooler, more interesting, and more spacious. Indeed, Airbnb often allows for a more personalized, intimate experience with a city that makes you feel more like a local than a tourist. Hosts can provide insider tips on local watering holes and attractions no hotel concierge has ever set eyes on.” You may end up staying in a neighborhood you might never find from the hotel district.
  • Try to book ahead: Business traveler Guy Pearson of Practice Ignition told The Sydney Morning Herald “Just like hotels there is a limited supply. If you want the good places you are better off planning ahead” That goes double for bookings when there’s a big event in town.
  • Check on the Wi-Fi before you book: “Look for professional renters where they run the apartment as short-stay accommodation so it is more likely to have Wi-Fi,” Pearson told the Sydney Morning Herald. In both hotels and Airbnb properties, Wi-Fi has been an issue for some business travelers, and it’s important no matter where they’re staying: A 2014 Hotels.com survey found free Wi-Fi ranked as the most desirable in-room amenity. If it’s critical to your business trip, check the reviews and contact the host before booking.
  • Save time and money where expenses flow directly into your expense report Airbnb is part of the Concur ecosystem, and when you connect to Airbnb your reservations and receipts will be sent to Concur for you when you book directly on Airbnb. Your expense report will be more accurate and less of a hassle, so you can focus on business, not filling out a spreadsheet.