Airbnb To Get Serious About Attracting Business Travelers

airbnbusinessIn some cities, it’s much less expensive to find a room on Airbnb than it would be to rent out a hotel room. Yet most business travelers still choose to stay in traditional hotels, partly because their employer won’t allow them to or because they think they will have difficulty expensing the rental. After a year of seeing growth in this area, Airbnb is launching an improved experience for business travelers in the hopes of getting some of that sweet expense account money.

Just this year alone, more than $300 billion is expected to be spent on business travel in the U.S., so even a sliver of that pie is a substantial amount of money.

Since launching its Airbnb for Business program a year ago, a number of companies — especially Silicon Valley tech companies that need to house visiting employees or consultants for weeks or months at a time — has seen increased demand. The current system, which involves travelers entering unique coupon codes for participating businesses, and then manual invoices being sent out by Airbnb each month, is not sufficient, especially if Airbnb wants to attract more people.

Thus Bloomberg reports that the new business travel system will include a centralized billing system and a dashboard for managers at travelers’ employers to track employee spending.

The hope is that the more streamlined experience and interface will convince more employers to give Airbnb a shot.

“Corporate travel is a big part of the travel pie; it’s worth a lot of money,” co-founder and chief technology officer Nathan Blecharczyk tells Bloomberg. “We’re further along there on our leisure side than our business side.”

Many frequent business travelers will still want the known comforts and amenities of hotel rooms, but Airbnb believes there’s a demand for non-traditional lodging, especially for longer-term rentals.

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