But if the San Francisco-based company has anything to say about it, that could soon change. Airbnb has launched a new search tool designed with business travellers and their specific needs in mind. Using it returns only properties that the company has deemed “business travel ready” or BTR.
The theory is that business travellers don’t want the same things as leisure travellers. “They want speed, convenience and reliability,” says the company. For accommodations to qualify, they must feature “the essential amenities and services a business traveller needs, like wi-fi, laptop-friendly workspaces and self check-in.”
BTR listings must offer an entire apartment or house, and be pet-free and smoke-free. They must include the standard amenities found at a hotel, like toiletries and a hair dryer. The hosts must be at the top of their game, with a 90%+ response rate within 24 hours, and the listing must have more 5-star reviews than the average home.
Airbnb has also made it simpler for companies to coordinate business travel for their employees. An enrolled company can keep track of nights booked, travel costs, and trip dates on their dashboard. Choose your ideal payment method – whether it’s central billing, invoicing, or reimbursing – and Airbnb makes tracking and reporting easy. Employees can charge to the company directly with one-click expensing, without ever entering their own credit card details.
Business travel could provide the revenue boost Airbnb needs to go for an IPO. Though business travel spending is estimated to grow to US$1.6 trillion by 2020, it currently accounts for only 10% of Airbnb bookings. The company hopes to benefit from younger professionals’ penchant for mixing business with leisure as Millennials advance in the workforce.
The problem? If Airbnb targets corporate jet-setters, who make up the majority of bookings at traditional hotels, hotel lobbyists are likely to fight even harder to impose regulatory restrictions on the company.
But for now, if you’re a business traveller who doesn’t dig the vibe of the standard business stay, Airbnb offers a cosy solution.