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Business Travel Gets Personal with Hotel Alternatives

Sourcing execs are acclimated to generic hotel wall art and breakfast basics, but a younger generation of business travelers is seeking experiential stays through accommodation marketplaces like Airbnb for Work.

Airbnb reported that in the past year nearly 700,000 companies have had employees sign up and book with Airbnb for Work. Of all these companies, more than 275,000 of them are directly engaged with Airbnb to help manage their travel.

Gap Inc., Facebook, Twitter and Columbia Sportswear Company are among the companies that use Airbnb for Work, while mid-sized companies (251-5,000 employees) are the fastest-growing segment of travelers on Airbnb for Work.

Launched in 2014 as Airbnb for Business and rebranded in 2018 as Airbnb for Work, the brand extension aims to redefine the modern workspace through a portfolio of work-friendly homes, brainstorming spaces for meetings and off-sites and unique team-building experiences around the world.

Work-ready spaces are equipped with amenities like WiFi, a workspace, fresh linens, hair dryers and self check-in, while the Airbnb for Work dashboard makes it easy to book and manage company trips on Airbnb. The board gives administrators better awareness and accurate reporting on employee trips and offers price alerts and payment groups to help manage company travel spending.

And more importantly, Airbnb for Work taps into young generations’ affinity for personalized, immersive and shared services—a new normal that has effected travel as much as it has the retail industry.

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Stays vary from an $86 a night Porto apartment within driving distance to Portugal’s shoemaking region, to a $99 a night historic house in Denver during Outdoor Retailer, to a $1,350 a night Beverly Hills mansion for your next company meeting.

Airbnb for Work
Airbnb for Work Airbnb

And with bookings tripling year-over-year since 2015, Airbnb expects this independent way of travel to maintain momentum in 2019 and in the process, influence new business travel trends.

“We’re seeing the ways they travel—where they go, where they prefer to stay, and what they do when visiting a new city—change in interesting ways,” the company said in its 2019 travel trend report.

While business travel hubs like London, Paris, New York and Sydney remain prominent destinations, the company says it’s seeing the highest growth of trips to locations in regions like Latin America and Africa this year over last. Some of the fastest-growing locations for business travelers include cities in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa.

Group business travel is also on the up and up. Airbnb reported that nearly 60 percent of Airbnb for Work trips in the last year had more than one guest. Of the 60 percent of Airbnb for Work trips with more than one guest, nearly 40 percent had three or more guests.

And companies are going off the grid to spark collaboration and bonding. Corporate teams are traveling to scenic and historic spots like Ipoh, Malaysia, Guarujá, Brazil and Tagaytay, Philippines, Airbnb reported.

Business travelers are also soaking up the local culture when they’re off the clock. Airbnb sees business travelers tack on weekend days to explore the cities they’re traveling to. More than 30 percent of Airbnb for Work bookings in the past year include at least one weekend night.