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Turn Business Travel Into a Vacation With Airbnb

Author: Michael Taylor

Short business trips are an expectation in many industries and are typically relatively comfortable. However, long business trips? Not so much. Dealing with dirty laundry, sleeping away from the comforts of home and even dining out can get old quickly(especially when your dining partners are clients or colleagues, and you're "always on.")

And traveling to new destinations can quickly lose its glamor when your time is filled with meetings, airports and there is little time to explore. Thankfully, a new study points to a possible solution.

Study Findings

Airbnb Inc. is offering a way to make business travel more like a vacation. A new study and analysis of trends enabled Airbnb to highlight that mixing business and leisure travel is going mainstream in 2016. The study: "The sharing economy is here to stay. Now what?" was developed by CWT Solutions Group with the cooperation of Airbnb. It examined travel patterns for two large employee enterprises utilizing the Airbnb for Business program during the first half of 2015.

Key findings included:

  • Airbnb for Business companies save on average 30% vs. traditional accommodations
  • In the six months since launch, more than 50,000 employees of more than 5,000 businesses have completed bookings
  • Over 35% of bookings were for two or more travelers
  • 45% of Airbnb for Business trips are international
  • Six of the top ten destinations were in the United States
The Top Ten Global Cities For Business Travel

The most heavily traveled global destinations reported were:

  1. San Francisco, Calif.

  2. London, UK

  3. New York City, N.Y.

  4. Paris, France

  5. Los Angeles, Calif.

  6. Milan, Italy

  7. Mountain View, Calif.

  8. Austin, Tenn.

  9. Seattle, Wash.

  10. Tokyo, Japan

Airbnb for Business and "Bleisure"

Airbnb for Business is now used by thousands of companies for travel. "Business travelers seem eager to change from the traditional business travel accommodations," says Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb. The proof? Airbnb claims that the average length of a business traveler's stay on Airbnb was double that of stays in traditional accommodations. They pegged the length of stays at 6.8 days per trip, which the study concluded meant more weekend stays, more mixing business with pleasure and more of exploring new places. Airbnb has even coined a new term for this trend, "Bleisure." (Read more, here: Will Airbnb Revolutionize Business Travel?)

Breaking Down The Pros and Cons

Airbnb for Business appeals to business travelers by providing easy expense reporting, convenient locations, amenities like WiFi, irons and shampoo, workspaces and 24-hour check-in. Further, companies enjoy cost-savings, as travelers cook for themselves and save on parking. Additionally, there are potential productivity gains as the travelers are equipped with the comforts of home and can collaborate easily with colleagues when more than one guest of the company stays at the same accommodation. Further appeals are made to the company's travel managers, in terms of benefits like streamlined payments, simple reporting and host insurance.

With prominent companies on board as validation, the trend to Airbnb for business travel will likely accelerate. Benefits such as corporate travel cost savings, will likely fuel this momentum. The longer stays also spread the Airbnb cleaning and service fees over more days. Perhaps companies will even pick up the tab for an extra day or two as a perk or incentive for their teams. (Read more, here: 7 Ways to Save Money on Business Travel.)

What could stand in the way of the growth of this trend? Well, privacy concerns for one. How does the transition from employee to private citizen work when it comes to "bleisure" stay payments and reporting when booked on the employee's own dime? Could employees push back on an expectation to cook and clean from their employer in comparison to traditional accommodations with restaurants and maid service? Are shared accommodations in a private home as comfortable for co-workers of different generations or sexes? The answers may vary according to the company's region and sector. (For more, read: The Pros and Cons of Airbnb.)

The Bottom Line

A recent study and trends analysis by Airbnb indicate that mixing business and leisure travel is going mainstream in 2016. Airbnb for Business is growing rapidly as an alternative to traditional accommodations, especially in economic hubs in the United States. There are pros and cons for business travelers, but travel managers will likely support the trend to save on travel costs.

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