Will business travelers at large corporations someday be able to book directly with Airbnb, enabling their companies to track their spending and whereabouts? It’s a distinct possibility, according to Marc McCabe, a business development executive at Airbnb who’s examining this area.
“There is increasing interest for Airbnb for the corporate world,” McCabe told me yesterday.
TWITTER: Join Barb on Twitter
MORE UNIQUE COVERAGE: 10 signs you’re in a hotel too often
Airbnb is a San Francisco startup that has grown into a $10 billion business by acting as a matchmaker between people who want to rent their homes or apartments – and people who want to rent them for a night or more.
Hotels and hotel booking systems don’t have to worry too much – yet. The global short-term lodging rental giant is in the exploratory phase, trying to figure out “how businesses could make better use of our platform,” he said.
TRAVEL UPDATE: Easy link to my ‘Front Page’
There are myriad complexities involved with corporate travel booking systems ranging from a user-friendly interface to care of travelers when they’re on the road.
Underscoring the legal issues involved with steering employees to Airbnb, the University of California’s travel services director on Monday issued an email to faculty saying it will not reimburse business travel expenses for Airbnb and other so-called sharing businesses because the companies “are not fully regulated and do not protect users to the same extent as a commercially regulated business.”
The UC memo continued, “until further notice, please do not use services such as Uber, Lyft, Air B&B or any other similar business while traveling on or engaging in UC business.”
Of course, plenty of business travelers are already using Airbnb.
Airbnb doesn’t have stats yet, but McCabe says a “significant” number of people use the Airbnb system for a combination of work-related stays including conference travel, work-related group stays and longer-term assignments.
Business travelers who need to stay in a given location for an extended period of time is where where McCabe believes Airbnb can stand out from national and global extended-stay chains from established hotel chain operators such as Marriott, Hilton and IHG.
“Hotels are terrific for two- or three-night stays, but they can get a little tedious when staying for 10 nights,” he told me.
“Not everyone wants room service every night or having to spend $50 to get laundry done. With Airbnb, we give you some of these amenities,” he said. “you can cook yourself and work out of the apartment, and maybe wash your own clothes. A decent chunk of our properties are available for 30 nights or more. For extended-stay, we offer a pretty compelling product.”
How fast Airbnb can grow in this market remains to be seen given the many complex issues to be considered. Earlier this week, one institution – the University of California – told employees that it will not reimburse travelers.
Readers: Are you using Airbnb for your business trips? Tell us about it here in the comments section or email me directly for my next story on this topic.