Business travelers are a growing segment of the vacation rental market, and Airbnb is leveraging their market position to make working on the road better.
But Airbnb for Work isn’t just for road warriors: The company’s latest efforts highlight benefits for the occasional business traveler, too, in a way that’s streamlined and cost effective for companies.
Why should property managers consider positioning their properties to fit this niche? We’ll look at some of the trends driving Airbnb’s strategy, the rationale behind their newest features, and what it takes for rental properties to make the cut.
Airbnb for business travel taps into motivations for companies and employees
Within six months of Airbnb for Work’s launch in 2015 (then called Airbnb for Business), 50,000 employees from more than 5,000 companies had already completed bookings.
And the latest numbers? Around 700,000 companies have now had employees book through the site, a number that’s more than doubled in the past year alone. Indications are that it isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.
In the battle for top talent, companies are looking for unique ways to attract, retain, and motivate staff. At the same time, the largest demographic in the workforce — millennials (aged 24 to 35) — puts a high value on experiences and travel. These motivations have helped shape four key trends that Airbnb credits for its impressive growth...
1. The rise of business and leisure trips (aka “bleisure”)
Mixing business with pleasure is something younger travelers are particularly comfortable with. According to a report by AARP, more than half of the millennials surveyed had extended a business trip to include vacation time. In the past year, more than 30 percent of Airbnb for Work bookings included at least one weekend night.
And for many workers, 'bleisure' isn’t a perk but a way of life. According to a survey by Deloitte, 57 percent of millennials are prepared to move to full-time freelancing if they haven’t already done so. The potential for higher income is a significant draw, but so is the flexibility to live and work wherever they want.
2. Team building on the road
Vacation rentals are often a top choice for teams that travel together, even without prompting from Airbnb for Work: In the past year, nearly six in ten bookings were for more than one guest, and nearly 40 percent were for three or more people.
By now showcasing homes that are ideal for groups, the company aims to serve another need: Local teams looking for space to host offsite meetings. Airbnb points to a report from American Express that reveals a growing demand for non-traditional meeting spaces. “Sterile conference rooms aren’t motivating and don’t foster creativity,” Airbnb noted. “However, relaxing and productive environments help people open up to connect and contribute; they help teams achieve their shared goals more effectively.”
The American Express report also highlights the growing emphasis on the “quality of experience over the length of meetings,” something that adds another layer of complexity to meeting planning. To deliver this in a way that’s more streamlined, Airbnb is incorporating its 'Experiences' into the business travel dashboard.
3. Changing Business Traveler Preferences
Vacation rentals are gaining market share even for “traditional” business trips (i.e. three to five days). Hotels are still a top choice for many people, but private accommodations are often better positioned to provide the comforts of home, like important amenities (i.e. fast WiFi) and local experiences that other travelers prefer. Some business travelers are choosing Airbnb as an alternative to the traditional accommodations they would have booked in the past.
4. Leveraging Airbnb for Temporary Housing
At the other end of the spectrum, Airbnb is also a source for extended stays and relocations that may last from a few months to a year. In the past year alone, Airbnb reports that visits of 14 days or longer have grown nearly 3x. To serve this niche, Airbnb is positioning listings as temporary homes that feel like home, “to help more professionals instantly feel like they belong in their new communities."
How to get your vacation rental included in Airbnb for Work
Airbnb limits their “work collection” to properties that fit certain criteria, including only highly rated listings that meet what the business market is looking for. As a quick overview of the Airbnb for Work requirements, listings must provide:
- A specific type of space: an entire home, a private room with a private bath, or a private room with an en suite bath
- Essentials (i.e. linens, towels, etc.)
- Smooth self check-in (backed up by high ratings)
- A laptop-friendly workspace
- A flexible or moderate cancellation policy.
- Responsive customer service (backed up by consistently quick responses over the past 365 days)
The end results for companies using Airbnb for Work include cost savings — an average of 49 percent a night — with one-click expensing and a set of dedicated tools, as well as improved comfort, health, and productivity for employees on the move. That’s good news for property managers: It means there’s a lot of potential.